Kadima MKs to face tribunal over 'Boycott Bill' vote

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Knesset session 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Knesset session 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Two Kadima MKs may face disciplinary measures on Wednesday after skipping the Knesset vote on the “Boycott Bill,” as left-wing organizations announced their plan to challenge the controversial law in court.
The entire Kadima faction was told to vote against the bill on Monday, but that party’s MKs Otniel Schneller and Yulia Shamalov-Berkovich were absent during the vote on the anti-boycott measure. The bill passed by a margin of nine votes, despite the fact that eleven ministers – including Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu – were absent, leading some Kadima insiders to suspect that either Schneller or Shamalov-Berkovich made a deal with Netanyahu to balance out his absence.
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Schneller, a former chairman of the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, lives in Ma’aleh Michmash, not far from Ramallah. He said on Tuesday, “I and my family cannot be boycotted like cottage cheese.”
The Kadima MK said his party should have “supported the bill, which was part of the State of Israel’s fight against racism toward its citizens. If there wasn’t party discipline, I would have voted in favor of the bill.”
“Those who oppose the bill with phony democratic claims are legitimizing the international trend of boycotting Israeli academia, culture and economics, thereby damaging the legitimacy of Israeli democracy and Jewish morals,” Schneller added.
Kadima’s disciplinary body is expected to meet on Wednesday, and decide how to punish Schneller and Shamalov- Berkovich. One of the more serious possibilities is to remove Schneller from the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
Kadima MKs Yoel Hasson and Arieh Bibi were also absent on Monday night, because they were in China, and MK Gideon Ezra (Kadima) did not come to the Knesset because he was not feeling well.
MK Ronit Tirosh (Kadima) toed the party line, voting against the bill and each of its clauses, despite being a vocal supporter of the anti-boycott measure.
“Kadima’s zigzag, in which Livni forced her party’s members to remove their name from the bill, despite the fact that they were among those who proposed it, proves that they are a party without an ideology that gives in to left-wing organizations,” coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin (Likud), who proposed the bill, said.
“This makes it final: Kadima is on the left side of the map.”
The original version of the “Boycott Bill” was proposed by Elkin along with Kadima faction chairwoman MK Dalia Itzik.
The bill that passed, which Elkin called “vegetarian” compared to its “meaty” first draft, allows citizens to bring civil suits against persons and organizations that call for economic, cultural or academic boycotts against Israel, Israeli institutions or regions under Israeli control. It also prevents the government from doing business with companies that initiate or comply with such boycotts.
Elkin expressed satisfaction after the bill’s passage, saying that “the Knesset has put an end to the foolishness of boycotts coming from within [Israel].”
“The law isn’t meant to close mouths, but to protect the citizens of Israel,” he said.