IDI researchers come out against MK suspension bill.
In advance of today's discussion by the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee on a bill that would allow Knesset members to expel other Knesset members, IDI researchers yesterday sent a policy statement to the committee, coming out against the bill and asking the committee to remove it from Tuesday's agenda. In the policy statement, Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer and Dr. Amir Fuchs acknowledged the gravity of the provocation created by the MKs from the Balad Party, but wrote that the bill proposed in response to that provocation is unacceptable. The proposed bill grants dangerous judicial authority to the Knesset, a legislative body that lacks the tools needed to reach such decisions.
"The Knesset does not have the judicial expertise, knowledge or necessary tools to determine facts. This bill proposes a fully-blown judicial process, including granting MKs the ability to punish other MKs for criminal acts," according to the statement.
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 authors of the policy statement do not wish to downplay the gravity of expressions of support for armed conflict against the State of Israel or incitement to racism. However, they say the place to deal with these transgressions, even when they are made by Knesset members, is in a criminal court.
"The power of democratic Israel is specifically in giving freedom of expression and maintaining the right to choose and be chosen. Firing MKs from the Arab sector will lend support to their claims of political silencing and persecution. Therefore, as long as there has not been a criminal act, it would be better for Israeli society to contain such views, as angering and blood-boiling as they are, and strengthen democracy,” they write.
IDI President Yohanan Plesner said he shares the public's anger at the Balad MKs who visited the homes of terrorists. Nevertheless, he says the proposed MK suspension bill is ridiculous and must be removed from the committee’s agenda.
"MKs lack the ability to clarify facts or deliberate on evidence, and therefore the initiative to grant them the authority of judges is illogical. The Knesset is a political body, which is not intended to function as a court. Granting MKs the authority to suspend each other will almost automatically lead to political and unprofessional maneuvering and to a media circus that will serve extremists on both sides, while harming Israel's ability to advance a common civil vision."