Plenum holds vote on controversial bills

By REBECCA ANNA STOIL
March 23, 2011 02:50

Admission Committees Law, "Nakba Bill," criticized by left-wing legislators and activists as unfairly targeting Israeli Arabs.

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Knesset

Knesset. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozlimski )

The Knesset was expected to approve two controversial laws slammed by left-wing legislators and activists as unfairly targeting Israeli Arabs, during a late plenum session on Tuesday night.

The Admission Committees Law, sponsored by Israel Beiteinu MK David Rotem and Kadima MKs Shai Hermesh and Yisrael Hasson, would formalize the establishment of admission committees to review potential residents of Negev and Galilee communities that have fewer than 400 families.

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Although such committees existed even before the bill was passed, the bill formalizes the compilation of such committees, and also legally empowers the committees to reject candidates if they do not meet certain criteria.

The second controversial legislation is the so-called “Nakba Bill,” sponsored by MK Alex Miller (Israel Beiteinu). The reworked version of the law discussed at the plenum on Tuesday night would require the state to fine local authorities and other state-funded bodies for holding events marking Nakba (“catastrophe”) Day on Independence Day, supporting armed resistance or racism against Israel, or desecrating the state flag or national symbols.

According to the law, any state-funded body that sponsored such an event would be forced to pay three times its sponsorship cost in fines deducted from its operating budget. If the same body were to violate the law again in the ensuing two years, it would pay a double fine.

Both bills are supported by the coalition and were expected to pass, but third-reading votes had not yet taken place by press time.


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