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Securing some stability, Knesset okays 11 permanent committees

Makeup of panels approved by Arrangements Committee in 17-13 vote; opposition to control 3 committees; Yamina’s Nir Orbach to head House Committee

Lawmakers during an Arrangements Committee meeting at the Knesset, July 12, 2021. (Noam Moskowitz/ Knesset spokesperson's office)
Lawmakers during an Arrangements Committee meeting at the Knesset, July 12, 2021. (Noam Moskowitz/ Knesset spokesperson's office)

The Knesset’s Arrangements Committee approved the makeup of the parliament’s 11 permanent committees on Monday, in a sign of stability a month after the new government was formed.

The Knesset House Committee will be headed by Yamina’s Nir Orbach; the Finance Committee by Yisrael Beytenu’s Alex Kushnir; the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee by Yesh Atid’s Ram Ben Barak; the Economic Affairs Committee by Blue and White’s Michael Biton; and the Internal Affairs and Environment Committee by Ra’am’s Said al-Harumi.

The opposition will control three committees: the Committee on the Status of Women and Gender Equality; the State Control Committee; and the Science and Technology Committee.

The formation of the panels was approved by the temporary Arrangements Committee in a 17-13 vote.

The move is another step in stabilizing the new coalition, an unlikely alliance of right-wing, left-wing, centrist, and Islamist parties that has deep ideological disagreements and only enjoys the slimmest possible parliamentary majority.

On Sunday, the Islamist Ra’am party said that it was halting its parliamentary cooperation with the coalition, denying it a majority. The issue was resolved shortly after, as ministers voted to move the Authority for Development and Settlement of the Bedouin in the Negev from the Economy Ministry to the Welfare Ministry as Ra’am wished.

An upcoming piece of legislation that could shape up to be the new coalition’s next major crisis is the renewal of a law that regulates exemptions from army service for many members of the ultra-Orthodox community.

MK Nir Orbach attends the Arrangements Committee meeting at the Knesset, on June 28, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Ra’am and the opposition Joint List party are refusing to back laws related to the Israel Defense Forces, and right-wing opposition parties have refused to vote in favor of any coalition legislation even if they ideologically support it — such as an extension to a ban on Palestinians with Israeli spouses getting Israeli citizenship — in an effort to cast the government as impotent.

Another major challenge will be passing the state budget, which must be approved within three months of its swearing-in or the government falls. The deadline has since been extended to November.

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