MKs to address Arab-Israeli incitement

Measures target what right-wing MKs say is "treason."

311_Knesset fight (photo credit: Knesset Channel)
311_Knesset fight
(photo credit: Knesset Channel)
In the shadow of last week’s Knesset near-brawl, tensions between Arab MKs and most of their Jewish counterparts remained high as the new week began. A prominent forum for coexistence complained that threats against Arab MKs had reached an unprecedented high. On Sunday, the Ministerial Committee for Legislation was set to discuss two bills targeting incitement among Arab Israelis.
Both measures target what right-wing MKs say is incitement and even treason in the Arab sector, particularly among elected representatives.
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The first bill, submitted by Law Committee Chairman MK David Rotem andMK Robert Ilatov, both of Israel Beiteinu, would change the format ofthe pledge of allegiance to the state made by every legislator.
The bill, which was first submitted to the Knesset during the Olmertadministration, was resubmitted in recent days as part of IsraelBeiteinu’s “Loyalty Laws,” making good on the party’s campaign sloganof “no loyalty, no citizenship.”
The new format would require MKs to swear allegiance to the State ofIsrael as “a Jewish, Zionist and democratic state, and to its valuesand symbols.”
“Although the proposal is not new, there are some MKs who are makingsure that it always remains relevant – especially this past week,”Rotem said. “The State of Israel was established as a Jewish, Zionistand democratic state, and there is no reason that those in the Israelilegislature should not pledge their allegiance and act according tothose parameters. If they cannot, they have no place in this building.”
“Only a suicidal country would allow its enemies to serve in theKnesset”
The second bill, drafted by MK Danny Danon (Likud), would allow “theexpulsion of a serving MK due to incitement against Israel.”
“Only a suicidal country would allow its enemies to serve in theKnesset,” Danon said. “Imagine if during America’s war in Afghanistan,a Taliban member who lived in America served in the US Congress.”
The text of the bill accuses Arab MKs of “continually taking advantageof the freedom of expression allowed them due to the State of Israel’sdemocratic nature to harm the state and its institutions.”
Citing the example of former Balad chairman Azmi Bishara, who fled thecountry after being investigated for spying for Hizbullah, the billsays it would expand on the law drawn up in Bishara’s name. Whereas theso-called “Bishara Law” approved in 2008 allows for a party list orcandidate to be barred from running in the next election, Danon’s billwould allow for the removal of an MK mid-term, if 80 MKs voted in favorof his or her removal.
Another Israel Beiteinu bill – denying citizenship in cases ofterrorist activities or espionage – will be debated in the Knesset’sHouse Committee on Monday, hours after the committee resumes apostponed hearing on stripping 6 Arab MKs of their parliamentaryimmunity after they visited Libya in late April. The hearing wasscheduled for last Monday, but was delayed in light of the incident onthe Mavi Marmara.
Facebook group titled "Kill Haneen Zoabi" opened
Meanwhile on Friday, the Abraham Fund Initiative filed a complaint atthe Mevaseret Zion police station, alleging that a new Facebook groupwas inciting to kill MK Haneen Zoabi (Balad). The organizationcomplained that someone had opened an account on the social networkingdevice titled “Kill Haneen Zoabi,” and that since it was started onTuesday, hundreds had joined the group. Some of the posts on the siteallegedly included racist and inciting statements against Israeli Arabsas well as against the lawmaker, who participated in the Free GazaFlotilla aboard the Mavi Marmara.
Abraham Fund Initiative directors Amnon Be’eri-Sulitzeanu and Mohammad Darawshe said that the “growing extremism in rhetoric and the nature ofthe threats against Arab MKs in recent days expresses a serious assaultin Israel’s democratic space and distances the chances of livingtogether in coexistence and equality.”
Interior Minister Eli Yishai (Shas) revealed during an interview lateon Thursday that he had asked Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein clarifywhether it would be legal to rescind Zoabi’s citizenship. While theinterior minister does have the right to strip people of theircitizenship, he may only do so after receiving the approval of theattorney-general. “If the Knesset strips Zoabi of her immunity, hercitizenship should also be stripped,” Yishai said during a televisioninterview.
And on Saturday, MK Taleb a-Sanaa (United Arab List-Ta’al) said thatpolice had to “rescue” him from an angry crowd of demonstrators afterhe arrived at the Ashdod Port, where the MV Rachel Corrie was being brought by the IDF.
“The State of Israel is making mistakes that cause it to come intoconflict with the entire international community and social welfareorganizations. The Palestinians must not make mistakes and must stopthe stupid and pointless shooting of rockets that presents Israel asthe victim and them as the attacker,” Sanaa said shortly after theincident. “The age of the Wild West in the Middle East is over, andIsrael needs to respect international law.”