JERUSALEM (Aug. 20)
The Knesset arrangements committee today elected Labor MK Abba Eban as temporary Speaker. He was elected on the basis of being the eldest Knesset member, after Yosef Burg.
The vote took place after Attorney General Yitzhak Zamir and Knesset legal advisors ruled that Burg’s position as Interior Minister and as Speaker represented a conflict of interest between the Executive and Legislative branches of the government.
Labor Alignment MK Moshe Shahal, chairman of the arrangements committee, said Eban now had the authority to determine the Knesset agenda. Eban reportedly intends to call the Knesset into session, during which a permanent Speaker will be elected. The Alignment proposes former Interior Minister Shlomo Hillel as its candidate for Knesset Speaker.
The committee rejected a proposal by the Alignment to immediately elect a Speaker. But Alignment leaders said that although they had lost the battle, they would win the war. Eban was elected with the backing of the Alignment and Shas. The Knesset is likely to convene within the next two weeks, but will immediately afterwards recess for the High Holy Days. In the meantime, the Alignment and Likud will try to activate the various Knesset committees.