Otzma Yehudit Chairman Itamar Ben Gvir on Tuesday night removed Otzma MK Almog Cohen from the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee over Almog’s failure to support the party’s struggle to increase the budget of the Negev and Galilee Ministry.
Cohen’s seat on the prestigious committee was awarded to MK Limor Sonn Har Melech.
There have been tensions recently between the National Security Minister and Cohen, who was picked for the Otzma list for his record as co-founder and organizer of the “Committee to Save the Negev,” whose stated goals are “the development of the Negev in the fields of economy, trade, security, personal welfare, and education, as well as parliamentary and extra-parliamentary activities.” But even though Cohen, who was born in Beer Sheva and lives in Ofakim, fits like a glove the Otzma message for the Negev, there is no love or trust lost between him and the party chairman.
The conflict came to a head last Wednesday when Cohen attended his daughters’ birthday at home rather than be on hand for Knesset votes. As a result, the coalition suffered two humiliating defeats – although both opposition bills dealt with welfare policy and were well worth supporting.
Ben Gvir’s chief of staff Hanam’el Dorfman WhatsApped party activists following the voting fiasco: “I’m starting to think that Itamar doesn’t interest Almog, Otzma Yehudit doesn’t interest Almog, the Negev residents don’t interest Almog, Almog is only interested in Almog. I wish I was wrong.”
MK Cohen tweeted in response to his demotion: “While the crime in the Negev and Galilee is celebrating and civilians are being murdered in the streets, it is better to focus on creating solutions, and less on personal vendettas. I am proud of the fact that I stood my ground in closed rooms to vote in favor of the budget, as we did tonight, to preserve this important right-wing government that brings huge budgets and national projects to the Negev. I was sorry to hear about my removal from the F&C committee, I will support the residents of the Negev faithfully at every step. I’m just wondering who replaces me, Hanam’el?”
As we said, it will be MK Limor Sonn Har Melech, who chairs the Committee for Oversight of the Israeli Citizens’ Fund.
In the end, much mudslinging was done by all, and Otzma Yehudit continues to come across as the most amateurish and erratic show in a Knesset that features Yair Lapid.