Balad MK Haneen Zoabi at the Knesset..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A bill that would make it easier to ban politicians who voiced support for terrorism from running for the Knesset was voted down on Wednesday.
The Basic Law: Knesset legislation states that a candidate or party list may not run in an election for the Knesset if its actions “clearly or implicitly reject Israel’s existence as a Jewish and democratic state, incites to violence or supports armed conflict by an enemy state or terrorist organization against Israel.”
The Knesset voted on an amendment proposed by MK Sharon Gal (Yisrael Beytenu) sought to add the words “including statements” after “actions.”
The coalition granted freedom to its MKs to vote according their conscience, and the bill was rejected, with 41 opposed and 38 in favor.
The legislation was nicknamed the “Zoabi bill” after MK Haneen Zoabi (Joint List), who participated in the 2010 Gaza flotilla aboard the Mavi Marmara during which passengers responded violently to Israel Navy commandos’ attempts to redirect it, resulting in nine deaths. In 2014, the Joint List MK said that the kidnapping of three teenagers in Gush Etzion – who were subsequently murdered – was not terrorism, and wrote an op-ed praising Hamas during Operation Protective Edge.
The Central Elections Committee voted ahead of the 2015 election to ban Zoabi from running based on the current version of Basic Law: Knesset, but the High Court overturned the decision on grounds that there was not clear enough proof that she supported armed conflict against the state.
Presenting his bill, Gal said that "statements like IDF soldiers are murderers or the boys' kidnappers are not terrorists are severe incitement.
"This bill is supposed to sharpen the difference between freedom of speech and the freedom that certain people in this House took upon themselves to incite and encourage terrorism. If we don't set a limit, they won't stop on their own," he added.
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked spoke out in favor of the bill, saying that terrorism is not just letting off a bomb, it is also encouraging the masses to do so.
"The law must recognize that statements also ignite terrorist attacks and undermine the existence of the State of Israel as a free country," she stated.
MK Osama Sa'adi (Joint List) called the bill unconstitutional, adding that it goes against several High Court rulings on the matter.
Following the vote, even though the bill did not pass and was proposed by an opposition MK, Zoabi pointed out that it was only rejected by a three-vote margin and said it demonstrates how the coalition "plays the most dangerous game, combining a fascist ideology with populism.
"The coalition is trying to make elections pointless," she said. "They want there to no longer be equality in the right to be elected and to catalog people and censor them, limiting their activities so there is no longer pluralism in political stances."
The bill represents a "tyranny of the majority that would make politics and the freedom to form political parties pointless," Zoabi added.