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