Disbarment Bill Set for Final Vote; Opponents Left in Uproar

The plenum hall of the Knesset (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
The plenum hall of the Knesset. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

The Knesset Constitutional Committee on Monday authorized for its second and third vote the Disbarment Law, in which MKs can be voted out of office by their fellows for speaking out against the existence of the state or against the IDF. The bill will be brought for a Knesset vote on Tuesday or Wednesday, sponsors said, and it is expected to pass into law.

When it does, MKs will be able to decide to disbar a fellow Knesset member if they decide that his or her comments are opposed to the rule of law or the “spirit” of Israeli democracy. Under the bill, an MK can be impeached if 70 of his or her fellows choose to do so, with at least ten of them coming from the opposition. A vote of 90 MKs is required to ratify the original impeachment vote.

Once an MK is out, he or she can never return to the Knesset again, according to the bill.

The Committee approved the law by a vote of seven to six. Members of the opposition on the committee, seeing how matters were unfolding, got up and left the discussion for parts of the voting process. Among the opponents was MK Chaim Yellin (Zionist Camp), who said that “the entity that voted in the MK should be the one to vote him or her out. Knesset members cannot disbar their own, that is beginning to resemble what we are seeing in Turkey. Anyone who votes for this bill votes against democracy.”

The current version of the bill is a significant softening of the original version, which would have allowed a simple majority vote of 61 to impeach an MK.

The law, introduced last year, is aimed at and was inspired by one person – MK Hanin Zoabi, well known for her outrageous comments on Israel and the IDF. Most recently, Zoabi said several weeks ago that IDF soldiers were “murderers” for killing nine Hamas-affiliated activists who attacked IDF soldiers aboard the Mavi Marmara as part of the 2010 Gaza flotilla. Zoabi demanded that the Israeli government apologize to the Turkish “political activists” aboard the ship, including herself. At least 60 complaints on the comments were filed by MKs with the Knesset Ethics Committee.

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