Knesset Ethics panel to make MKs pay for bad behavior

New punishment could be used against lawmakers who visit Temple Mount.

Israeli Knesset members arguing in parliament. (photo credit: KNESSET CHANNEL)
Israeli Knesset members arguing in parliament.
(photo credit: KNESSET CHANNEL)
Two bills giving the Knesset Ethics Committee authority to fine MKs passed first readings overnight Monday.
The first would allow the committee to dock MKs’ salaries for the time they are suspended from the plenum or committees due to a severe ethics violation. Lawmakers would be able to be docked for up to a month; a unanimous decision by all members of the Ethics Committee would be required to apply the punishment against a MK for the first time.
The decision comes a day after the Ethics Committee decided that, until further notice, visiting the Temple Mount will be considered an ethics violation that carries sanctions, in light of a letter from acting police commissioner Asst.-Ch. Bentzi Sau to Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein calling to ban lawmakers from the holy site, because such visits “will increase the tension on the Mount… which in all likelihood would have an effect on the security situation of the entire country.”
The Ethics Committee cited in its decision the ethics rule stating that MKs are supposed to act for the good of the country.
As such, if the proposal passes a second and third (final) reading in the Knesset, the committee could dock up to a month’s salary from MKs who visit the Temple Mount.
The other rule the Knesset approved in a first reading Sunday is one MKs nicknamed “you break it, you buy it.”
The bill states that an MK who causes damage to Knesset property while committing an ethical violation can have up to NIS 10,000 cut from his or her salary.
The condition for the fine is that the Ethics Committee determines he or she intentionally caused the damage or knew that there was a reasonable chance his or her actions could cause damage.
In 2013, MK Ahmad Tibi (Joint List) poured water on a copy the Beduin resettlement bill that was being discussed, while standing at the podium in the plenum.
His antics ended up damaging the sound system and costing the Knesset more than NIS 20,000.
Also in 2013, MK Meir Porush (United Torah Judaism) handcuffed himself to the podium in protest of the haredi enlistment bill, causing costly damage, as Knesset workers had to dismantle the microphones in order to free him.
At a Knesset House Committee meeting discussing the bills last month, Ethics Committee chairman Yitzhak Vaknin (Shas) said the punishments currently at his disposal are not enough to deter MKs from bad behavior.
Without stronger disciplinary measures, “We’re doing ethics violators a favor by giving them publicity,” Vaknin lamented.