The Knesset Ethics Committee has handed Likud MK Oren Hazan its harshest punishment – a six-month suspension – for a number of incidents in which he cursed and insulted his colleagues.
Hazan is a repeat offender, who has become known for his crude language in speaking to other Knesset members, especially women and Arabs.
The MK’s salary will also be docked for a week, marking the first time the Ethics Committee is using this type of sanction. During his suspension, he will be permitted to come to the Knesset to vote.
In its decision to punish Hazan, the Ethics Committee said on Wednesday that it was “horrified by the accumulation of statements and behavior by MK Hazan that we see in these events... which present a pattern of action that is bullying, rude, degrading and harassing.”
“These events and statements, which have veered into racism and degradation more than once, deteriorate the Knesset to a previously-unknown low point,” the committee’s decision reads. “It looks as though MK Hazan has set a goal to bother Arab MKs and to drag female MKs into a degrading and humiliating discourse including sexist and chauvinist statements... which deal a deadly blow to the Knesset and its public image.”
The punishment came in response to a number of complaints.
Joint List MK Haneen Zoabi submitted several about Hazan, lamenting continued harassment by the lawmaker, during which his aides film the events and publicize them on his social media.
Zoabi said Hazan is stalking her, pointing out that in December, while she was being interviewed, Hazan stood in the background and shouted over her so she couldn’t be heard. In another incident, Hazan followed her through the Knesset, walking very close to her and “speaking terrible profanities.”
Hazan responded to the Ethics Committee that he spoke “pleasantly and not like a bully,” and that he wasn’t following her, he was going to the same place as she was.
MK Michal Biran (Zionist Union) complained of an incident in November in which Hazan told her she should apply for a job, implying for prostitution, but that he’s “sure no one would look at her.”
Biran called Hazan’s comments “degrading and sexist [and] clearly sexual harassment.”
During the November shouting match, Biran called Hazan a pimp, which led to her being suspended for a week. She was referring to a 2015 Channel 2 News report that Hazan managed a casino in Burgas, Bulgaria, pimping prostitutes and providing methamphetamine to Israeli tourists, and using drugs himself.
Hazan sued Channel 2 for defamation, and the court found that the reports related to prostitutes and drug use were defensible, but not that of dealing drugs.
MKS AHMAD TIBI (Joint List) and Miki Rosenthal (Zionist Union) submitted a complaint about Hazan calling Tibi a spy earlier this month, while on stage in the Knesset and questioning the legitimacy of Tibi running a plenum meeting as deputy Knesset speaker.
Tibi allowed Hazan to repeatedly call him a spy, but told him to leave the stage when his time was up. Hazan refused to leave, and Tibi called the ushers to remove him. Hazan called Tibi a coward and clucked like a chicken and made chicken motions with his hands. The Likud MK also said Tibi has terrorist friends.
Hazan said he is proud of his behavior toward Tibi and that he is “defending our national pride.” He defended his chicken impression by saying that Tibi behaved toward him “like chickens who are afraid when a fox comes to the coop.”
Rosenthal also submitted a complaint against Hazan, who was caught on camera last week shouting at Joint List MK Jamal Zahalka as he walked by him, that Zahalka is a terrorist and uses hallucinogenic mushrooms, among other things.