Ethics C'tee: Misbehaving MKs will be sanctioned

Warning comes after Arab MKs rip copies of Prawer Bill in plenum; c'tee clarifies it will not limit MKs freedom of speech.

July 2, 2013 23:09
1 minute read.
Ahmed Tibi pouring water on Prawer Bill.

Ahmed Tibi pouring water on Prawer Bill 370. (photo credit: Courtesy of Knesset Channel)

MKs who behave inappropriately will face sanctions, the Knesset Ethics Committee warned lawmakers Tuesday.

A week after Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein submitted ethics complaints against Arab MKs who ripped copies of the Prawer Bill – which regulates Beduin land claims in the Negev – in the plenum, the committee warned MKs that it will not tolerate disrespect.

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In a letter to lawmakers, the committee explained that it receives many complaints from citizens who feel that the way MKs speak is harmful to the Knesset, its honor and its public status.

At the same time, the committee wrote that it tries not to limit freedom of political and ideological expression, even when MKs say things that are “harsh and outrageous.”

“The right to freedom of speech is essential to MKs in and out of the Knesset, and this right protects those who say unpopular things that may bother many,” the committee added.

However, the committee said it will reject “statements that may be considered obscene, defamation, slander and humiliation of individuals and communities.”

“Such behavior harms the Knesset’s status and dignity, leads to decline in the Israeli public discourse, and must be stopped with the tools the Ethics Committee has at its disposal,” the letter reads.

As such, the committee concluded, it warns MKs that from now on, they will sanction any lawmaker who misbehaves.

The committee warning came over a week after the Knesset’s first vote on the Prawer Bill, when one Arab MK after another – Jamal Zahalka (Balad), Afo Agbaria (Hadash), Haneen Zoabi (Balad), Masud Gnaim (UALTa’al), Muhammad Barakei (Hadash) and others – demonstratively ripped copies of the bill. MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta’al) also poured water on the legislation, saying it does not deserve respect.

Agbaria also called for a third intifada if the bill, which legalizes around 63% of Beduin land claims, is implemented.

Following the vote, Edelstein filed complaints to the Ethics Committee and refused to allow Tibi to serve in his capacity as deputy Knesset speaker until the ethics panel releases its ruling on his behavior.

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