Knesset House Committee chairman MK Yoav Kisch asked Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein on Monday to start the impeachment process for Joint List MK Basel Ghattas, who is suspected of smuggling cellphones to security prisoners.
The process began after Environmental Protection Minister Ze’ev Elkin gathered 71 lawmakers to support the move.
If the measure passes, Ghattas will be the first Knesset member to be impeached by his own colleagues. The Impeachment Law passed in July 2016 allows MKs to remove a colleague from office. The impeachment process begins after at least 70 signatures in support of the measure are gathered, of which 10 must come from the opposition.
A vote is then called in the Knesset House Committee, and only then does it go to a plenum vote, where it needs a majority of 90 MKs.
The law states that the House Committee chairman is required to give ten days notice before holding the first discussion; therefore, it will take place on March 9.
Kisch called on Zionist Union MKs to support the impeachment, which he sees as an act that will protect Israel. “I call my fellow MKs from the Zionist Union to join the move,” he said. “This is not about Left or Right, but about keeping Israel safe and empowering the status of the Knesset.”
Without the Zionist Union votes, it is highly doubtful the measure will pass.
Ghattas, who is currently going through a hearing process by the attorney-general before his indictment, condemned the move and warned that it will open the door to expel every lawmaker that isn’t favored by the majority. The Joint List MK also reiterated claims that he did not harm Israel’s security and acted out of humanitarian motives.
“As I said from day one: I never committed a felony that harms the citizens; neither did I break the Terrorism Law,” Ghattas said in a statement.
“I never committed a crime in expressing my support for an armed struggle, and I have nothing to hide. I did what I did out of humanitarian motives, and I will continue to fight for my right to receive a fair legal process.”