The Knesset Ethics Committee on Tuesday forbade MK Ahmed Tibi (UAL-Ta’al) from
giving one-minute speeches for the next month, after he said in the plenum, in
Arabic, that he “scorns” a previous Ethics Committee decision to suspend him
from the Knesset for a week.
In response, Tibi’s party complained to
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin that the Ethics Committee was singling out the
Tibi was suspended three weeks ago following a speech in
limerick-form about MK Anastasia Michaeli (Israel Beiteinu) that could be
interpreted as sexist. It also included Arabic profanity.
MK used framework of one-minute plenum speeches, which take place every Tuesday
afternoon, to criticize the Ethics Committee decision and explain his previous
For example, he said, the word amok – which is the same in Hebrew
and English – is different from emok, the Arabic term for “your mother” that is
often used in insults.
At the time, Knesset Ethics Committee chairman
Yitzhak Vaknin (Shas) was presiding over the plenum meeting as part of his
responsibilities as a deputy Knesset speaker.
Vaknin and Tibi argued
about the speech, and the Shas MK asked that Tibi’s microphone be turned
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On Tuesday, the Ethics Committee, in a session chaired by MK Arye
Eldad (National Union) so that there would be no conflict of interest for
Vaknin, decided that Tibi would not participate in any of the oneminute speeches
The committee said it rejected Tibi’s “hair-splitting” about
the meaning of the “obscene” language he used in the plenum, along with his
ridicule of the Ethics Committee.
Because he “misappropriated the
parliamentary tool” of one-minute speeches to disrespect the Knesset and its
members, the committee explained, the MK will be forbidden from using that tool
for the rest of the month.
In response, Tibi spokesman Ahmed Mohana
called the committee a “right-wing tribunal that oppresses Tibi because of his
speeches,” adding that Vaknin should have been suspended.
was a clear violation of freedom of speech for MKs in the plenum and crossed a
red line, Mohana said, adding that the panel could not fairly judge Arab MKs
because Eldad called Tibi “the enemy” during the meeting.
to respond to the claim because Ethics Committee meetings are closed to the
“MK Tibi will continue to give his profound and sharp speeches
without fear and without hesitation,” Mohana stated. “This is North Korean
UAL-Ta’al sent a letter to Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, saying
the Ethics Committee was leading a “witch hunt” against the MK.
Knesset Speaker Shlomo Molla (Kadima) and MK Eitan Cabel (Labor) requested that
Rivlin dissolve the Ethics Committee and reestablish it because it was
“We do not justify the behavior of those involved in this
matter, but it seems that the Ethics Committee is silencing MKs that do not
agree with the opinions of its members,” they wrote.
Committee member MK
Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) defended the committee and its decision, telling The
Jerusalem Post that Tibi was a “serial criminal when it comes to dirty language
and had been punished appropriately.”
Later Tuesday, Tibi took the podium
during a plenum discussion of the Knesset Economics Committee’s request to split
a bill in two.
“There is one right that cannot be taken away from me, and
that is the right to protest by remaining silent,” he said – at which point he
stood silently in front of the microphone for a full minute.
down the protestations of MKs in the plenum, saying Tibi had the right to
express himself through silence.
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