Coalition to decide fate of bills constraining Arab MKs
Any one of the six parties in the coalition will have veto power.
By DAN IZENBERG
Any one of the six parties in the coalition will have the power to veto two private member’s bills calling to stiffen constraints on the actions of Arab MKs, after the Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday passed the bills on to parliamentary coalition head Ze’ev Elkin (Likud).Elkin faces the hurdle of persuading the Labor Party to support the proposals, both of which would amend the Basic Law: The Knesset. According to the coalition agreement, every coalition party has the right to veto any changes to the constitutional status quo.The first bill, submitted by Likud MK Danny Danon, states that if at least 30 MKs are of the opinion that a parliamentary colleague has violated Article 7a of the Basic Law: The Knesset, it may present a motion to the Knesset speaker asking for the MK’s dismissal. If at least 80 MKs support the motion, the MK will be ousted from the Knesset.According to Article 7a, an MK may be fired if “the goals or actions of the person, expressly or by implication, include one of the following: 1. Negation of the existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state; 2. Incitement to racism; 3. Support for armed struggle by a hostile state or a terrorist organization against the State of Israel.”The MK whose ouster is demanded may appeal the motion to the Knesset House Committee. If the committee rejects the motion, it will be dropped before the plenum has the chance to vote on it.The second bill, submitted by Israel Beiteinu MKs David Rotem and Robert Ilatov, calls for MKs to swear allegiance to the State of Israel as a “Jewish, Zionist and democratic state, to its values and symbols.”Asked whether Rotem did not believe that he was making it impossiblefor Arab MKs to take the oath, his spokesman said that this was thestate that was created in 1948 and that the Declaration of Independencemade these same statements.“The labor parties – Mapai, Ahdut Ha’avoda and Mapam – established thestate on these principles,” said the spokesman. “We grew up on them.”The committee also endorsed a private member’s bill filed by Rotemafter three ministers demanded a revote at Sunday’s meeting. The billcalls to provide benefits to those who have served two full years inthe army or two full years in national service. The benefits includehigher education tuition fee payments of up to NIS 9,350 a year forthree years and an extra 10 percent in credit points for mortgages overand above the points otherwise accumulated. Those eligible under thelegislation would also be allotted 25% of all plots of land orapartments made available by government tender.In another development, the committee rejected a bill submitted byUnited Torah Judaism MKs Moshe Gafni and Uri Maklev which would haveextended the powers of the rabbinical courts by allowing them to dealwith civil matters if both parties agreed to the move.Under the existing law, rabbinical courts may only deal with marriage and divorce issues.Women’s organizations, including the Rackman Center for the Advancementof the Status of Women, strongly opposed the bill because they fearedthat weaker parties, particularly women, would be forced to acceptrabbinical court adjudication even though it was allegedly againsttheir best interests.
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