Likud concerned Hazan suspension will destabilize coalition

With only a 61-seat coalition in 120-member House, ruling party depends on every single vote to pass legislation

Likud Member of Knesset Oren Hazan during a Likud party meeting at the Knesset, June 15, 2015 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Likud Member of Knesset Oren Hazan during a Likud party meeting at the Knesset, June 15, 2015 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Likud officials are worried the suspension of party MK Oren Hazan from the 120-seat Knesset over a series of complaints against him will prevent the coalition from functioning, Haaretz reported Wednesday, as the fragile 61-seat coalition needs every last member to win crucial votes.

The Knesset Ethics Committee barred Hazan from participating in parliamentary debates for a month.

The ban does not stop him from voting, a right the Ethics Committee cannot take away from Knesset members. But Likud officials expressed concern that Hazan’s suspension would cause him to skip votes and possibly cause the coalition to lose critical battles.

“In the current reality, in which our majority is fragile and dependent on Hazan’s vote, his suspension could affect the functioning of the entire coalition,” a Likud source told Haaretz.

“We can’t expect him to sit for hours outside the plenum waiting for when he needs to vote. His frustration could also cause him to miss critical votes.”

The freshman Likud lawmaker has found himself facing harsh public scrutiny over various reports of wrongdoing, including last week when he was roundly criticized for mocking a disabled fellow MK.

On Wednesday, a state comptroller report on party spending during primary campaigns said Hazan failed to report his expenditure and accused him of lying in an affidavit declaring his expenses, a crime that can carry up to a three-year custodial sentence.

Hazan, who entered politics ahead of the March elections, was at the center of a number of scandals earlier this year after television exposés accused him of sexual assault, soliciting prostitutes and using crystal meth when he managed a European casino.

Hazan denied the allegations at the time but the report prompted Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein to block Hazan, a deputy speaker, from presiding over any Knesset meetings “until further notice.”

Raoul Wootliff and Marissa Newman contributed to this report.

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