MK Hanin Zoabi.
(photo credit: KNESSET CHANNEL)
Opposition MKs were unable to hold back their ire for their colleagues in the coalition overnight Monday, using strong language and gestures at them during debates on increasing the penalty for rock-throwing and expanding the definition of a security prisoner.
Legislation to broaden the meaning of “suspected of committing a security offense” is meant to keep arrested suspects separate from other prisoners and prevent them from making contact with terrorist organizations while in jail.
The bill’s explanatory section says that, in recent years, prisoners used smuggled cellphones to take an active part in planning and ordering terrorist attacks against Israelis from behind bars.
The proposal passed a first reading with 39 in favor and eight opposed, after a tumultuous debate in the plenum.
During the discussions, Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal-On criticized a different bill by MK Sharon Gal (Yisrael Beytenu) that would make it easier to sentence terrorists to death, saying to the coalition: “Every screw-up brings a proposal and you all get in line.”
Deputy Knesset Speaker Yoel Hasson (Zionist Union) asked Gal-On to take back her remark, but she refused. He then asked her to leave the podium and, when she refused to do so, had the ushers forcibly remove her.
Over the course of the debate, all of Meretz’s MKs were removed from the plenum, after each received three warnings for being disruptive.
“When I was a kid, I was taught that everyone can choose when to be insulted, and in this case, I’m not insulted,” Gal responded. “What we just saw is the liberal and enlightened Left.”
Gal-On retorted: “What I said was a compliment compared to what I think of you.”
MK Haneen Zoabi (Joint List) was also removed from the plenum for shouting extensively, and was caught on camera pointing her middle finger at MK Yoav Kisch (Likud), who said Arab MKs must realize that Israel is a Jewish and democratic state and represent their constituents, as opposed to Palestinians.
Joint List MK Zoabi gestures in Knesset
On Tuesday, Kisch said Zoabi’s behavior “shames the Knesset and the public that sent her there.”
Earlier Monday night, the Knesset voted to continue legislating a bill from the last Knesset that would increase the punishment for throwing rocks or other objects onto roads and cars.
If the bill becomes law, the punishment will be up to 10 years in prison, and the pun - ishment for throwing rocks or other items at a police car will be identical to that for aggravated assault on a police officer. It will no longer be necessary to prove that the rock-throwers intended to harm anyone, which is currently a major obstacle in trying to convict them.
“It’s absurd that, until now, the burden of proof was on the prosecution,” Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said. “The law will put the responsibility back on the rock-throwers and will assume that whoever throws a rock means harm. Rocks kill.