MK Oren Hazan (Likud), traditionally the legislator most loathed by the Israeli left, both inside and outside the Knesset, now gets his turn to be the darling of the left, because of the courageous way he stood up to Prime Minister Netanyahu. Naturally, when Hazan was just as brave in the past, calling out Netanyahu on his shabby treatment of Israel’s rightwing majority, especially in Judea and Samaria, he did not receive recognition by the Labor MKs who this week have been stepping on each other to defend him, or, more accurately, attack Netanyahu on his behalf.
Hazan himself told Israel Radio Wednesday morning that he is paying a high price for his daring to criticize the prime minister, like several other Likud members (former MK Moshe Feiglin comes to mind). Hazan supports establishing a state committee of inquiry to investigate the 2014 Gaza war, specifically how aware had the IDF command been of the 30 to 40 Hamas terror tunnels? Netanyahu has released documentation showing the IDF conducted eight sessions, followed by 20 technical sessions, instructing the security cabinet on those tunnels. But Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett insists no such heightened attention was ever paid to the tunnels, and, in fact, it had taken his, Bennett’s, tenacious nagging to steer the cabinet and the high command towards hitting those vexing tunnels.
The Likud has launched a move to remove MK Hazan from the State Control Committee, where the vote on a state commission of inquiry will take place — because Hazan suggested he was in favor of appointing such a body. For his part, Hazan acknowledges that Netanyahu has just had enough of his “colorful” personal style, although it should be noted for the record that Hazan is one of the most hard working MKs: he is Knesset Deputy Speaker, and participates diligently and industriously in the Finance, State Control Committee, Special Committee for Discussion on the Public Broadcast Bill 2015, House Committee, Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, and the Joint Committee for the Defense Budget. He is also member of a long list of Knesset Lobbies.
The above impressive record of Hazan’s contributions is surprising only to those who recall how the media introduced him following the last election, as a playboy drug dealer who managed casinos in Bulgaria and furnished cocaine and escorts for Israelis on vacation.
The Likud leadership has had it up to here with Hazan’s erratic behavior (he has endured several reprimands and a suspension for verbal brawls with opposition members, most recently his arch-enemy Hanin Zoabi from the Joint Arab List). They would like to post a more obedient MK at the Control Committee, because Netanyahu desperately wants to avoid a hearing on his cabinet’s management of the Gaza campaign. To remind the reader, 67 Israelis died in that war, and there are growing voices in Israel saying many of those deaths could be avoided. The head of the most right wing government in recent memory, Netanyahu does not need to be accused of military failure.
The opposition has been livid over Netanyahu’s intent to drop Hazan from the committee less than a week before the conclusion of the Knesset summer session. The same Zionist Camp NKs who last year condemned Netanyahu for letting into the Knesset a sketchy character such as Hazan now released a statement saying: “Bibi is afraid of Hazan. He is afraid of criticism, and above all he is afraid that criticism of operation Defensive Shield would expose him as being weak against the Hamas — that he is more a talkback artist than a leader.”
MK Karin Elharrar (Yesh Atid), chair of the State Control Committee, accused Netanyahu of trying to sabotage the committee’s work. “The prime minister is acting on strictly political considerations and it isn’t clear of what he is so afraid,” she said.
Haim Jelin (Yesh Atid) called on Knesset Speaker MK Yuli Edelstein (Likud) to block the Likud Knesset faction’s move against Hazan. “The prime minister is so fearful of the comptroller’s report on Defensive Shield that he dishonors the Knesset and steps on the foundations of democracy,” Jelin said. “The next phase for the PM, after completing his domination of all the MKs, would be to pass the constitution for a new dictatorship.”
Incidentally, it’s been suggested recently that Netanyahu, who is 67, could remain Israel’s prime minister for many years to come — seeing as his exulted father Prof. Benzion Netanyahu lived to the ripe old age of 101. It could mean as many as 10 more terms for the ambitious Netanyahu, who would be the prime minister of Israeli children who are not yet born.