Right-wing ministers trying to topple gov't, says Meretz MK

The comment, by MK Mossi Raz, came after coalition MKs were given unusual permission to vote as they see fit on a law that would prohibit waving a Palestinian flag on university campuses.

 Meretz MK Mossi Raz tour in the East Jerusalem neighborhood Sheikh Jarrah, on January 22, 2022.  (photo credit: NOAM REVKIN FENTON/FLASH90)
Meretz MK Mossi Raz tour in the East Jerusalem neighborhood Sheikh Jarrah, on January 22, 2022.
(photo credit: NOAM REVKIN FENTON/FLASH90)

Right-wing members of the coalition are trying to topple the government by advancing a law to prohibit the waving of Palestinian flags on university campuses, a Meretz MK said on Sunday.

Mossi Raz was recorded saying to party activists on Sunday that the fact that ministers were given the freedom to vote as they chose on a law proposed by the opposition – to prohibiting flying Palestinian flags at institutions funded by the state – shows that the right-wing branch of the government is trying to bring it to its demise.

"I think they are doing it to bring down the government," Raz said.

"If the coalition approved freedom of voting [as the MKs see fit] on this issue, they probably have had enough. This contradicts the Jewish and democratic character of the State of Israel. It is not democratic, nor is it Jewish. It is a basic freedom of expression, So they have probably had enough," he said.

The public debate about the waving of Palestinian flags began after hundreds of Bedouin students at Beersheba's Ben-Gurion University in the Negev commemorated Nakba Day by flying Palestinian flags on the university's campus last Monday. 

A man holds a Palestinian flag near young Jewish men holding Israeli flags in Jerusalem's Old City during Jerusalem Day celebrations, May 29, 2022. (credit: JAMAL AWAD/FLASH90)A man holds a Palestinian flag near young Jewish men holding Israeli flags in Jerusalem's Old City during Jerusalem Day celebrations, May 29, 2022. (credit: JAMAL AWAD/FLASH90)

Raz also expressed his view on Twitter.

"The Palestinian flag is the flag of the nation that lives here with us. I hope to see it soon flying over the Palestinian embassy in Western Jerusalem," he wrote. "A law that prohibits waving it is a severe blow to Israel's identity as a democratic state."

"The Palestinian flag is the flag of the nation that lives here with us. I hope to see it soon flying over the Palestinian embassy in Western Jerusalem. A law that prohibits waving it is a severe blow to Israel's identity as a democratic state."

Meretz MK Mossi Raz

In response, Likud MK Eli Cohen proposed a bill that would designate a gathering in which flags of enemy countries or the Palestinian Authority are waved as illegal and punishable by a year in jail and a fine of at least 10,000 NIS. The proposal applies only to institutions that are funded by the Israeli government.

The law was passed in the Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday by a 7-2 vote, in a meeting headed by MK Ze'ev Elkin (New Hope) who supported the law, and in the absence of Justice Minister Gideon Sa'ar.

In an unusual move, coalition MKs were given the freedom to vote as they see fit. Members of the right-wing government parties – Yamina, New Hope and Yisrael Beytenu – may vote in favor of the law. It has a fair chance of passing its initial reading in the Knesset plenum on Wednesday.

The waving of the Palestinian flag at BenGurion University drew widespread criticism, including from Beersheba Mayor Rubik Danilovich, who criticized the university for allowing the event.

The protesters, on the other hand, argued they were simply exercising their right to free speech. They were backed by the university, which said that it was "proud of its students from all walks of life" for exercising their ability to democratically express their views and values, adding that it is a testament to the university's strength that the protests did not devolve into violent clashes. 

Bar-Ilan University, in contrast, recently allowed Israeli flags to be hung in university dormitories after a protest by the right-wing organization Im Tirzu, but prohibits other flags, including Palestinian ones.

Flag-waving was a source of friction in the days leading up to Jerusalem Day, as Palestinians attempted to protest the annual flag march, as well as the Israel Police's crackdown on mourners for waving the Palestinian flag during the May 13 funeral of slain journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.