The Knesset has approved on its first reading a law that would ban candidates from running on a party list if they had made statements or taken actions that were injurious to the state, or threatened its status as a democratic, Jewish state, or who engaged in racism or support of terrorism. The new law, proposed by MK Oded Forer (Yisrael Beytenu) is an update to an existing law that banned candidates who had actually taken part in terror attacks. The bill passed its first reading by a vote of 36 in favor and 26 against.
According to Forer, “It should be clear to everyone that we cannot tolerate incitement against the state or support of terror. The State Election Commission has already banned candidates for their support of terrorism, but the High Court has canceled those decisions.” Among those who had been banned by the Commission but allowed to run was United Arab List MK Hanin Zoabi, “who comes very close to the red line of being eligible for being banned, but has not crossed it yet. She speaks, but has yet to act.” The new law could be used to ban her from running, Forer said.
“The courts have over the years narrowed the definition of anti-state activity, and this law comes to expand it,” he said. “Anyone who calls terrorists ‘martyrs,’ anyone who tries to use democracy to destroy it, must understand that this cannot be permitted here, and would not be permitted in any democratic country.”
Opposing the bill were UAL members. Ahmed Tibi said in response to Forer’s remarks that “I get the feeling that you members of the coalition are trying to work out how to conduct the Knesset without Arab MKs. You are designing this bill to match the comments made by Arab MKs, and then you will use it to ban them.” Also opposing the law was MK Yael Paran (Zionist Camp) who said that the law “will instigate a witch-hunt against candidates, seeking out the negative things they have said. Anyone who wants to run for the Knesset will have to worry about a social media post or comment he or she made in the past. This is an unnecessary and excessive standard. This is an attempt to impose a police state.”