(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to criticism of the suspension bill during a Likud faction meeting on Monday, listing various democratic countries that allow for the expulsion of parliament members through a government vote.
The suspension process as described in the bill would begin with a request signed by 61 MKs, which would have to be approved by at least three-quarters of the Knesset House Committee’s members, and then brought to the plenum where at least 90 lawmakers would have to vote in its favor for it to take effect.
"In the United States, this issue is enshrined in the Constitution," explained Netanyahu. "Congress can impeach a member due to misconduct with a two-thirds majority vote."
"In England, a member of Parliament can be suspended for violating the rules of Parliament or for standing in contempt of Parliament with a simple majority vote," said Netanyahu.
"Additionally, a member of the lower house can be dismissed permanently from his position without the right to appeal with a simple majority if the majority of the members of the house believe him to be unfit for the job, and in Canada, the lower house can expel a member due to misconduct," he continued.
The prime minister explained that Israel is simply looking at the processes and powers that already exist in other democracies, policies that are now being described as anti-democratic now that Israel is looking to adopt them.
"We will not be deterred and we will pass this elementary thing," declared Netanyahu. "As members of Knesset stand in a moment of silence for the murderers of children, we will behave as they would in the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States if they were standing in memory of John the Jihadist or in the memory of other killers."
Netanyahu initiated the bill to suspend MKs after Jamal Zahalka, Haneen Zoabi and Basel Ghattas, MKs from Balad, one of the parties making up the Joint List, met with 10 families of terrorists who killed Israelis and whose bodies are being held by the police who say the families have rejected demands to hold a modest funeral to avoid violence. The three lawmakers stood in a moment of silence for Palestinian “martyrs,” and a Balad Facebook page identified one of the terrorists, who killed three Israelis, as a “martyr.” One of the bodies was released Monday.
However, the Balad MKs’ meeting with terrorists’ families could not be used to remove them from office, as the bill states that it can only apply to actions taken after it passes into law.
The candidate for suspension would have a chance to defend him or herself before the House Committee. If the panel rejects the punishment, its decision will be final. If not, the committee must determine the length of the suspension, which can be until the end of the MK’s term.
Suspended MKs will be able to challenge the punishment in the Supreme Court.