(photo credit: BAZ RATNER)
MKs will have to keep it classy or face the consequences, the Knesset Ethics Committee warned in a letter to lawmakers Monday.
“In light of the deterioration of the level of debate in the plenum in recent weeks, which many of us found jarring, and the many complaints that have reached the Ethics Committee, from which we can learn that the Knesset’s status has been harmed in the eyes of the public, the Ethics Committee sees itself as having the responsibility to try to eradicate the phenomenon with the tools it has,” the letter began.
The Ethics Committee was likely referring to several recent incidents that scandalized the Knesset.
In one case, Deputy Interior Minister Yaron Mazuz told Arab MKs that they “are lucky to be here” and that they should turn in their identification cards.
In another, MK Zehava Gal- On (Meretz) referred to MK Sharon Gal (Yisrael Beytenu) as a “screw-up” and refused to take it back or step down from the stand, leading to her removal from the plenum.
That night, MK Haneen Zoabi (Balad) pointed her middle finger at MK Yoav Kisch (Likud).
If such events take place again, the Ethics Committee warned that while it protects MKs’ right to freedom of ideological and political expression, it will not tolerate “profanity, defamation, slander, and degradation of individuals and population groups.”
Such speech “cheapens the discourse, personally offends MKs and severely damages the Knesset’s dignity.”
Thus, the Ethics Committee wrote, if MKs engage in such behavior, the committee will punish them more harshly than they did before, including suspending them from plenum meetings.
The committee’s four members expressed hope that the letter will be enough and that they will not have to act on their warning.