(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski/The Jerusalem Post))
A group of 32 intellectuals and left-wing activists demanded that MK David Rotem (Israel Beiteinu) be removed from his role as chairman of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, in a letter sent to Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin this weekend.
Author Yoram Kaniuk, former Foreign Ministry director-general Alon Liel, academics, sculptors, photographers and others signed the letter, which called for Rotem to be dismissed because he signed a letter supporting Rabbi Dov Lior last week.
“David Rotem and 25 other members of Netanyahu’s coalition, including coalition chairman MK Ze’ev Elkin (Likud), signed a letter of incitement against the State of Israel’s laws, which was sent to Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman,” they wrote.
Elkin, Rotem and others said they opposed the state’s treatment of Lior, after the Kiryat Arba-Hebron chief rabbi was detained for incitement due to his endorsement of a book dealing with halachic permission to kill gentiles.
“Chairman of the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee is an important role in Israeli democracy, and Rotem’s actions disqualify him from this job,” the letter reads.
“Rotem’s incitement clarifies that his central role in a wave of racist and anti-democratic legislation is not a coincidence, but rather a systematic policy against the rule of law in Israel.”
The letter was sent to Rivlin “as someone who is responsible for the Knesset’s honor.”
“You cannot allow this situation to continue, while ignoring the
irreversible damage that it causes to lawmakers in a democracy,” the
“Until Rotem is dismissed from his position, the committee’s discussions
should be suspended and its rotten laws should not be brought to the
plenum for votes. We cannot be silent until this disgrace is removed
from the Knesset.”
The Knesset speaker does not have the authority to oust committee chairs, who are chosen in coalition agreements.
The letter was also sent to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Foreign
Minister Avigdor Lieberman, President Shimon Peres, Supreme Court
President Dorit Beinisch and Knesset faction chairs.
Rotem, who is currently in London, told The Jerusalem Post: “The call to dismiss me from my job is hypocritical.”
“I’ve said in the past that the ‘Shai Nitzan crew’ needs to be
dismantled, and I did so again last week,” Rotem said, referring to the
deputy state attorney, who has been a target for protests by right-wing
“I have never personally attacked Nitzan, and I did not do so this time, either.”
“It is true that the chairman of the Constitution Committee needs to be
careful when he is criticizing the authorities, and that is what I did –
my criticism is specific, that there is no reason for there to be a
special staff to check the way laws are enforced with residents of Judea
and Samaria,” the Israel Beiteinu MK added.
“There is no special staff for Jerusalem, Tel Aviv or Hadera, and there
doesn’t have to be one for Judea and Samaria residents,” Rotem