The decision of U.S. President Donald Trump to skip the Knesset during his visit last May because of the Israeli parliamentarians’ reputation for heckling not only their own but even foreign leaders was the inspiration for a new rule of decorum approved on Monday night.
From now on, a disorderly Knesset member can be ejected from the plenum during a visit by a foreign dignitary after the first outburst, while the existing rule that an MK can be ejected after three calls to order remains in place for ordinary sessions.
Speaker Yuli Edelstein requested that the Knesset House Committee make the change following the embarrassment of having to forego hosting the president because of potentially bad behavior.
Ironically, presentation of the proposed legislation by House Committee chairman Yoav Kisch (Likud) was met with interruptions by MK’s of the very kind it is intended to deter.
“It was said that the president of the United States didn’t come to the Knesset, part of the reasons were really that maybe the reactions in this House to other presidents and prime ministers [dissuaded him],” Kisch said.
“I’m saying one thing, if this is really necessary – and we saw it in the past, we saw behavior that was sometimes beyond what is accepted and respectful to that representative – we should give the speaker the ability to use his judgment to prevent serious violations. I think this is an appropriate change.”
Among the foreign leaders subjected to heckling and walkouts were Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper, British prime minister David Cameron and European Parliament president Martin Schulz.