A general view shows the plenum during the swearing-in ceremony of the 20th Knesset, the new Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem March 31, 2015..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Knesset has passed legislation prohibiting convicts of terrorism-related crimes from running for Knesset until at least 14 years after they completed their prison term.
The new law, which was proposed by Likud MK Anat Berko, passed into law on Monday by a vote of 86-10. It applies to those convicted of grave security crimes who have been sentenced to at least seven years in prison.
The goal of the legislation is to prevent those who have taken action against the state and its citizens for ideological reasons from being fielded as a candidate by a party. The sponsors of the bill said they hoped it would also educate the public about the seriousness of hate crimes.
Berko said she had wanted it to ban convicted terrorists from getting elected for 25 years, but she was forced to decrease it to 14.
She said it might look like the bill is unnecessary now, but no one would have imagined that an MK would try to smuggle cell phones to imprisoned terrorists
– as former MK Basel Ghattas did – and no one thought an MK would spy for Hezbollah – as former MK Azmi Bishara did.
“Democracy does not have to be suicidal, and there are those who should not be allowed to come here to the Knesset,” Berko said.
“The enemies of Israel must be fought, and they must not be permitted to set foot in the Knesset and trample our democracy.”
Joint List MKs voted against the bill and criticized it. MK Dov Henin said it harmed the basic right of citizens to get elected and that the only thing the bill would accomplish was that it could help Berko politically.
MK Haneen Zoabi said the results of the vote proved that most of the MKs do not understand what terrorism and democracy are.
“Parliament members in the Zionist state have adopted delusional definitions of terror,” Zoabi said. “In their eyes, identifying with the legitimate struggle to liberate land from occupation is ‘terror’ and occupation, siege, and war crimes are ‘democracy.’ This bill confuses terrorists with freedom fighters.”
Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>