The frenetic search for a more effective way to discipline disloyal Knesset members took another turn on Sunday as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said he would advance a bill to suspend MK’s for “unseemly behavior.”
The issue arose after three members of the Balad party paid a sympathy and solidarity visit to the families of Palestinian terrorists last week, which provoked demands to expel them from the Knesset.
The term “unseemly behavior” will require more definition, as will the length of suspension and other particulars, as the proposed law is drafted in the coming days.
Passage of the bill would require a 90-MK majority to pass, after consultations with coalition parties. A similar measure is in place to oust the president or Knesset speaker under similar circumstances.
On Sunday evening, Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit announced that he’s given instructions to police and intelligence investigators to collect information on the Balad MKs visit.
The head of the Joint (Arab) List (to which Balad belongs) harshly condemned Netanyahu’s initiative, and defended the Arab MKs who are under fire, denying they supported the terror.
“The prime minister continues with his methods of deceit and incitement,” MK Ayman Odeh said in a statement. “According to Netanyahu, he should rule like a Caesar, and the Knesset should be run by the tyranny of the majority.”
Odeh said his party “fiercely opposes Israel’s body trafficking,” referring to the Israeli government policy of withholding the bodies of Palestinian attackers.
“Netanyahu and his ministers know full well that this was the essence of the meeting in east Yerushalayim,” he continued. “It’s a basic human issue. A man who dies, no matter how terrible his crime was, must be brought to burial. This does not contradict our moral and fundamental stance to condemn all attacks on innocents.”
Earlier Sunday, Netanyahu accused the three MK’s of “building walls of hatred” to resist Israeli efforts to reach out to the Arab community.
While lawmakers have immunity from criminal prosecution, Netanyahu has asked Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit to explore whether they can nevertheless face charges for supporting terror.
At the same time, Netanyahu said he wants to push forward laws to keep them out of the Knesset.
“I will ask to examine new legislative changes that will allow us to have those who act this way not serve in the Israeli Knesset. I think this thing is important as a statement of what kind of society we want to live in,” Netanyahu said, without specifying what “this way” referred to.