The Knesset .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Legislation creating a separate, easier-to-prosecute crime of incitement to terrorism, as opposed to general incitement to violence, passed its first reading in the Knesset on Monday.
The penal code currently establishes that incitement to violence or terrorism, which carries a five-year prison sentence, is when someone publicizes a call to an act of violence or terrorism, or praises, sympathizes with or encourages such acts, and the statements have a real chance of causing someone to behave violently or commit an act of terrorism.
The new bill creates a separate crime of incitement to terrorism, which would not require the prosecution to prove the probability of the statements causing someone to commit an act of terrorism.
In addition, the bill states that writing about “a correct and fair account” of the incitement is not a punishable offense.
The bill passed a first reading with 34 in favor and nine opposed, and will go to the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee to be prepared for a second and third (final) reading.
MK Youssef Jabareen (Joint List) lamented that “the government is eating away at the democratic principles that we were accustomed to until now. This proposal violates the historic balance between criminal laws and freedom of expression and damage the country wants to prevent. I am concerned about this law being used inappropriately.”
Joint List MK Jamal Zahalka said of other MKs in the plenum that “no one dares to argue against [the bill], because they will be accused of being unpatriotic.”
MK Yoel Hasson (Zionist Union), however, called the bill important, and said to MK Bassel Ghattas (Joint List) who was in the plenum at the time, that he will be the first person to be put on trial under the new law.
“The problem isn’t incitement, it’s that there is no way out for the Palestinians,” MK Nachman Shai (Zionist Union) argued, though he still supported the bill.