Ahead of tomorrow's expected first reading of the MK Suspension Bill on the Knesset floor, Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) scholars sent an updated policy statement to members of Knesset, calling on them to vote against the bill.
Ahead of tomorrow's expected first reading of the MK Suspension Bill on the Knesset floor, Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) scholars sent an updated policy statement to members of Knesset, calling on them to vote against the bill. In the policy statement, Professor Mordechai Kremnitzer and Dr. Amir Fuchs called the bill "unacceptable" and said it gives inappropriate and dangerous authority to the Knesset, which is a body devoid of the tools to deal with it.
In addition, the authors point out that the comparisons being made between the MK Suspension Bill and laws that exist in other countries are misleading and do not hold up under scrutiny. For example, in America, the Bill of Rights guarantees full and absolute freedom of expression. As a result, the sanction of expulsion cannot be imposed in reaction to written or oral statements alone—as countenanced by the Israeli proposal. Secondly, the American two-party system and two-thirds requirement effectively means that a representative or senator can be expelled only if members of his or her own party support the move. It is not possible, as would be the case in Israel, for the majority to expel a member or members of a minority party.
Kremnitzer and Fuchs explain that unlike the sanctions wielded by the Ethics Committee, this bill would grant Knesset members the power to remove completely the rights of their colleagues to vote. This would enable political witch hunts reminiscent of McCarthyism.
"The power of democratic Israel is specifically freedom of expression and maintaining the right to elect and be elected," Kremnitzer and Fuchs said. "Firing MKs from the Arab sector will legitimize those who claim there is political silencing and pursuit in the Israeli government. Therefore, as long as it is not a criminal act, it is better that Israeli society to contain such opinions and strengthen Israeli democracy, rather than pushing forth such a bill, as angering and blood-boiling as these types of acts may be."
To read the full policy statement, click here (Hebrew).