Knesset Discussion on Expulsion Bill Postponed

Nissan Slomiansky. Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90
MK Nissan Slomiansky. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

A discussion in the Knesset Law and Constitution Committee scheduled for Tuesday on the bill to expel MKs who meet with terrorists was suspended by committee chairman Nissan Slomiansky (Jewish Home). Speaking to Israel Radio, Slomiansky said that there was little point in advancing the bill to a vote if the members of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s coalition were not prepared to support it.

“There is no point for the government to move forward on this if it does not have at least 61 MKs supporting it, and I understand that several coalition MKs have said that they do not support the bill. This is something that can wait for the Prime Minister to return from abroad.”

Under the bill, MKs could sign a petition for the suspension of a fellow Knesset member, if he/she violated the rules that were set in the Basic Law relating to Knesset members, namely that such members not do anything to harm the sovereignty of the state. After a petition is signed by 61 MKs, it would have to be approved by three quarters of the Knesset Control Committee. An MK could not be banned unless 90 of their fellows voted him or her out. The bill also provides for an appeal process, both within the Knesset and to the High Court.

Several MKs in the Kulanu party have expressed misgivings at the bill, saying that since it was the voters who put them in the job, it should be the voters who remove MKs from their work as Knesset members. Slomiansky said that he understands the issue, “but there have to be red lines. I think that everyone would agree that what Arab MKs did recently in meeting with families of terrorists crossed that red line.”

Netanyahu indeed proposed the law several weeks ago, after Arab MKs Hanin Zoabi, Jamal Zahalka, and Bassal Ghatam met in Ramallah with families of terrorists from Arab neighborhoods of Yerushalayim. The three met with the families of eleven terrorists just a few hours before the murder of Hadar Cohen, Hy”d, killed in a terror attack at the Damascus Gate in Yerushalayim on Feb. 3. At the beginning of the meeting, the three held a “moment of silence” for the “memory of the martyrs,” the terrorists who were killed by Israeli security officials in the course of their terror attacks.

Introducing the bill to the Cabinet, Netanyahu said that “many Israelis feel that these Knesset members do not represent them. We invest a great deal in encouraging Israeli Arabs to be a part of Israeli society, but these MKs do the opposite – they build walls of hatred. I wonder what would happen in the British Parliament or the U.S. Congress if members had stood in silence for those who murdered Britons or Americans. I imagine there would be a great outcry, and justifiably so.”

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