"The MK Suspension bill is an embarrassment to the Knesset."
Despite vocal opposition by Knesset members and political activists (see video), the MK Suspension Bill today passed in the Knesset Law, Justice and Constitution Committee and will move on to a first reading on the Knesset floor.
In light of today's decision, IDI President Yohanan Plesner said, "The MK Suspension bill is an embarrassment to the Knesset. It should be stopped rather than fast-tracked through the legislative process, as it is now. During these difficult times, Israel's MKs need to focus on strengthening our democracy. Should an MK support or incite to terrorism, then he or she must be dealt with through both the existing mechanisms in the Knesset and/or the appropriate judicial processes. The comparisons being made to laws that exist in other countries are misleading and do not hold up under scrutiny."
In a policy statement (Hebrew) sent Sunday evening to the Knesset Law, Justice and Constitution Committee, 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.
"The Knesset does not have the legal expertise, knowledge or tools necessary to adjudicate facts, and in this incident we are talking about a judicial process in every way, including punishments for criminal acts," Kremnitzer and Fuchs said in the statement.
While the authors did not downplay the grave expressions of the Balad MKs who visited the home of Arab terrorists and whose actions were the catalyst behind this bill, they said the place to deal with such issues – even for Knesset members – is in criminal court.
"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."