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Edelstein shuts down Knesset, thwarting oversight panels

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein has shut down the Knesset plenum, saying he is doing so to give his Likud party and Blue and White a chance to hash out a unity agreement.

Doing so means he will not come through on a promise made Tuesday to allow the Knesset to form the parliament’s Arrangements Committee, which in turn, would staff the parliament’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and Finance Committee, and create a special panel on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Blue and White and allied parties have been seeking to staff the committees in order to provide oversight of a controversial program allowing the government to collect data from the phones of COVID-19 carriers and those around them.

Edelstein, who has been accused of stymieing Knesset debates to keep himself from being voted out of a job, says he has representatives from both parties meeting in his office now, but no agreement has been reached despite him offering what he claims is a deal that would address both sides’ concerns.

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, March 4, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“If and when there is an agreement, the plenum will convene again to vote on creating committees in line with the agreement,” the Knesset spokesperson says in a statement.

“I want to keep the meeting open and declare now a break until further notice, in hopes and prayers that good sense will prevail and we will be able even today to begin parliamentary oversight work as needed,” Edelstein says.

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