The coalition on Wednesday struck down a law proposal by opposition MKs Gideon Sa’ar, Merav Michaeli, Naama Lazimi and Merav Ben Ari to force violent domestic offenders to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet to make them respect restraining orders.
The bill fell 54-53.
After the bill fell, all of the female MKs in the opposition pulled out electronic bracelets in an act of protest, calling “Women’s blood should not be shed in vain.”
חברי האופוזיציה מתגודדים סביב דוכן הנואמים במליאה וצועקים בושה לשר בן גביר. לקראת ההצבעה על חוק האיזוק האלקטרוני. בן גביר אמר: "אתם מנצלים פה רצח של אישה" pic.twitter.com/iZwlI0LljM— יובל שגב | Yuval Segev (@Segev_Yuval) March 22, 2023
Bill rejected at Ben-Gvir's whim
Fierce shouting and arguments broke out on the Knesset floor. Opposition MKs repeatedly shouted “shame” after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voted against the bill.
A number of women MKs from the coalition tried to convince National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir to let the bill pass at least its preliminary reading, but he refused, saying instead earlier this week that a “more balanced” law is needed and would be put forward within a month.
According to Walla, some of the women MKs in the coalition who reluctantly voted against the bill left the plenum crying. Anonymous Likud MKs criticized Ben-Gvir.
"We are blindly following Ben-Gvir's whims and voting against our conscience. The time has come that we begin to behave like a governing party. Most of the party feels very bad and women left crying after voting against [the bill]."Likud sources
“We are blindly following Ben-Gvir’s whims and voting against our conscience,” Walla quoted Likud sources as saying. “The time has come that we begin to behave like a governing party. Most of the party feels very bad and women left crying after voting against [the bill].”
The law cannot be proposed again as a private bill for six months.
The current government has the power to apply a “bridge” mechanism and advance an identical governmental bill that passed its first reading unanimously during the previous Knesset, but so far, it has refused to do so.
The bill states that a court is allowed to issue an electronic monitoring bracelet to a person if it thinks that there is “high danger” from that person to a family member, or if there is real concern of violation of a restraining order, including in cases where the perpetrator violated a previous order or was already convicted for domestic violence crimes. The issuing of the bracelet may only be done if there “is no other way to achieve the goal of the restraining order with less restrictions to the person’s freedom of movement.”
Sa’ar wrote on Twitter in response: “Last week I agreed, at the government’s request, to postpone by a week the vote on the electronic bracelet bill. Today I also agreed to wait after the preliminary reading until a governmental bill is proposed. But the government decided that it was more important to knock down the bill in order to show that femicide is not important or urgent even when the danger is high. A disgrace of a government!”
Opposition leader MK Yair Lapid tweeted: “Women will die because of this government. Women will be beaten because of this government. The coalition blocked the electronic bracelet, which would have saved the lives of abused women. Because they do not care about women, they only care about politics.”
The Labor Party said: “This is a government that sees women’s lives as less than equal. And then they ask why women protest in blood-red handmaids’ robes.”
Na’amat CEO Hagit Pe’er said: “Shame on you. The government is directly endangering the lives of women in Israel.... It is best that they do not dare to come for photo-op tours that they love so much in abused women’s shelters – shame on you – you are not wanted.”
The NGO Amutat Bat Melech, which assists religious and haredi (ultra-Orthodox) women who suffer from domestic violence, said in response: “Rejecting the electronic bracelet bill is disconnected from the terrible reality of seven femicides since the beginning of the year. This is an effective tool of the first degree that could have saved lives and reduced the threat to women suffering from domestic violence. This is a matter of life and death, whose whole purpose is to provide a solution to defend women.”
Ben-Gvir wrote on Twitter that the opposition should be “ashamed,” because it “took cynical and political advantage” of femicide.
“You know that in a month we will bring a governmental bill that is many times better. For two years you were in power, you did not bring this proposal.
“Let us tell the truth: Women do not interest you,” he said. “You are interested in toppling the government. What interests you is politics at the expense of women.”
Contrary to Ben-Gvir’s claim, during the previous Knesset the law was prepared for months and passed its first reading unanimously. The opposition, which Ben-Gvir was part of, refused to agree to pass it into law before the Knesset dispersed on June 30.
Sa’ar explained earlier this week that during his tenure as justice minister, the government had spent months preparing the bill, and it had received the blessing of all of the relevant bodies.
“This delay, due to Ben-Gvir’s whim, expresses indifference to human life,” Sa’ar said on Sunday.
In a statement, he slammed the decision as “irresponsible.”
“This is a balanced bill, drawn up after extensive base work by professionals. The previous Knesset approved it unanimously in the first reading without any opposition,” Sa’ar said.