(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
The Knesset canceled all voting and most committee meetings Tuesday out of respect for the families of the three teenagers – Naftali Fraenkel, Gil-Ad Shaer and Eyal Yifrah – who were found murdered by Hamas terrorists on Monday night.
One-minute speeches, which take place every Tuesday afternoon, continued, but every MK who had a bill scheduled for a vote pulled it from the agenda.
Ten MKs gave one-minute speeches, all of them extending condolences to the boys’ families and commenting on the national unity in light of the tragedy.
“I think the influence of the families is clear in this meeting,” Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said. “If we asked them, they would probably say that the boys’ will is that we continue this unity not only in times of crisis. This is an important message.”
In an ironic turn of events, MKs debated the merits, under the circumstances, of holding a meeting on a bill meant to fight terrorism.
MK Elazar Stern (Hatnua) opened the meeting Tuesday morning by saying he was not sure whether or not to hold the meeting.
“On the one hand, we must continue our lives, but on the other, we need to be sensitive and understand those who have difficulty participating in such a discussion on such a day,” Stern said. “I think that specifically because [terrorism] is the issue, we have to continue discussing it.”
He added, “I want to support the families, and their contribution to our national strength should comfort them.”
However, MK Orit Struck (Bayit Yehudi) disagreed, saying that the bill in question “has too many ‘price tags’ after three of our boys were murdered.”
“This bill does not have the tools to defeat terror. On this day, we need actions, not words, and that is what I am doing now,” Struck declared before storming out of the meeting.
The legislation in question regulates how the government declares organizations terrorists, limits their activities in Israeli territory and increases punishment for heads and members of such groups.
The stated purpose of the bill is to give the government legal tools to deal with the threats of terrorism against Israel, and the meeting focused on the legal definition of terrorism.
Also Tuesday, a meeting between the US-Israel Relations Caucus, led by Labor MK Nachman Shai, and US Ambassador Dan Shapiro was canceled.