MKs to address Arab-Israeli incitement

Measures target what right-wing MKs say is "treason."

June 6, 2010 05:13
4 minute read.

311_Knesset fight. (photo credit: Knesset Channel)

In the shadow of last week’s Knesset near-brawl, tensions between Arab MKs and most of their Jewish counterparts remained high as the new week began. A prominent forum for coexistence complained that threats against Arab MKs had reached an unprecedented high. On Sunday, the Ministerial Committee for Legislation was set to discuss two bills targeting incitement among Arab Israelis.

Both measures target what right-wing MKs say is incitement and even treason in the Arab sector, particularly among elected representatives.

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The first bill, submitted by Law Committee Chairman MK David Rotem and MK Robert Ilatov, both of Israel Beiteinu, would change the format of the pledge of allegiance to the state made by every legislator.

The bill, which was first submitted to the Knesset during the Olmert administration, was resubmitted in recent days as part of Israel Beiteinu’s “Loyalty Laws,” making good on the party’s campaign slogan of “no loyalty, no citizenship.”

The new format would require MKs to swear allegiance to the State of Israel as “a Jewish, Zionist and democratic state, and to its values and symbols.”

“Although the proposal is not new, there are some MKs who are making sure that it always remains relevant – especially this past week,” Rotem said. “The State of Israel was established as a Jewish, Zionist and democratic state, and there is no reason that those in the Israeli legislature should not pledge their allegiance and act according to those parameters. If they cannot, they have no place in this building.”

“Only a suicidal country would allow its enemies to serve in the Knesset”

The second bill, drafted by MK Danny Danon (Likud), would allow “the expulsion of a serving MK due to incitement against Israel.”

“Only a suicidal country would allow its enemies to serve in the Knesset,” Danon said. “Imagine if during America’s war in Afghanistan, a Taliban member who lived in America served in the US Congress.”

The text of the bill accuses Arab MKs of “continually taking advantage of the freedom of expression allowed them due to the State of Israel’s democratic nature to harm the state and its institutions.”

Citing the example of former Balad chairman Azmi Bishara, who fled the country after being investigated for spying for Hizbullah, the bill says it would expand on the law drawn up in Bishara’s name. Whereas the so-called “Bishara Law” approved in 2008 allows for a party list or candidate to be barred from running in the next election, Danon’s bill would allow for the removal of an MK mid-term, if 80 MKs voted in favor of his or her removal.

Another Israel Beiteinu bill – denying citizenship in cases of terrorist activities or espionage – will be debated in the Knesset’s House Committee on Monday, hours after the committee resumes a postponed hearing on stripping 6 Arab MKs of their parliamentary immunity after they visited Libya in late April. The hearing was scheduled for last Monday, but was delayed in light of the incident on the Mavi Marmara.

Facebook group titled "Kill Haneen Zoabi" opened

Meanwhile on Friday, the Abraham Fund Initiative filed a complaint at the Mevaseret Zion police station, alleging that a new Facebook group was inciting to kill MK Haneen Zoabi (Balad). The organization complained that someone had opened an account on the social networking device titled “Kill Haneen Zoabi,” and that since it was started on Tuesday, hundreds had joined the group. Some of the posts on the site allegedly included racist and inciting statements against Israeli Arabs as well as against the lawmaker, who participated in the Free Gaza Flotilla aboard the Mavi Marmara.

Abraham Fund Initiative directors Amnon Be’eri-Sulitzeanu and Mohammad Darawshe said that the “growing extremism in rhetoric and the nature of the threats against Arab MKs in recent days expresses a serious assault in Israel’s democratic space and distances the chances of living together in coexistence and equality.”

Interior Minister Eli Yishai (Shas) revealed during an interview late on Thursday that he had asked Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein clarify whether it would be legal to rescind Zoabi’s citizenship. While the interior minister does have the right to strip people of their citizenship, he may only do so after receiving the approval of the attorney-general. “If the Knesset strips Zoabi of her immunity, her citizenship should also be stripped,” Yishai said during a television interview.

And on Saturday, MK Taleb a-Sanaa (United Arab List-Ta’al) said that police had to “rescue” him from an angry crowd of demonstrators after he arrived at the Ashdod Port, where the MV Rachel Corrie was being brought by the IDF.

“The State of Israel is making mistakes that cause it to come into conflict with the entire international community and social welfare organizations. The Palestinians must not make mistakes and must stop the stupid and pointless shooting of rockets that presents Israel as the victim and them as the attacker,” Sanaa said shortly after the incident. “The age of the Wild West in the Middle East is over, and Israel needs to respect international law.”

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