The Knesset Ethics Committee yesterday suspended MK Anastassia Michaeli (Yisrael Beiteinu ) for a month after she threw water in the face of an opposition MK. The punishment is particularly harsh, as Knesset suspensions rarely last more than a day or two.
Michaeli hurled a glass of water at MK Raleb Majadele (Labor) on Sunday in a meeting of the Education, Culture and Sports Committee; the panel was discussing sanctions against an Arab school principle who took his students to a human rights march in Tel Aviv last month.
Michaeli will be allowed to take part in votes but will be banned from debates in the plenum and committees.
The Ethics Committee said in a statement that it "is severely concerned about MK Michaeli's behavior, which included actual violence and an unprecedented attack on a colleague during a Knesset committee meeting. Michaeli thus breached the ethics rule requiring MKs to honor the Knesset and its members."
Frustrated that they could not impose an even more severe penalty, the committee members unanimously signed a bill that would allow the committee to impose tougher sanctions, including fines and the docking of pay.
In August, Michaeli was reprimanded by the Ethics Committee after she tried to stop MK Hanin Zuabi (Balad ) from taking the podium during a debate on a Turkish-sponsored flotilla to the Gaza Strip.
Zuabi, for her part, was suspended for the final two weeks of the Knesset session last summer for taking part in the flotilla.
Last night Michaeli apologized for the latest incident - before the committee's decision. Only hours earlier she was still saying she was proud of her actions and uploaded a clip of the event onto her Facebook page.
Yisrael Beiteinu, meanwhile, distanced itself from Michaeli's actions, saying that the party had "discussed the regrettable event ... and clarified to MK Michaeli that her actions were unacceptable under any circumstances." But Yisrael Beiteinu added that "one must admonish Raleb Majadele's remarks, which caused Michaeli's outburst."
Majadele welcomed the committee's decision, while his party's leader, Shelly Yachimovich, said that "the sanction is indeed exceptional in the committee's standards, but no punishment can erase this brutal and racist action .... Michaeli degraded the Knesset and embarrassed it internationally, and one can hope that soon enough the public will relieve the Knesset of her presence."
Meanwhile, the Ethics Committee suspended MK Robert Tiviaev (Kadima ) for one day for cracking a whip while referring to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week.
Tiviaev hid the whip in his jacket, and when on the podium, turned to Netanyahu and said: "Mr. Prime Minister, you use a whip against the citizens, against the courts, in the Knesset's Economic Affairs Committee and against Channel 10 .... I'll give you a real gift. A whip."
Knesset regulations prohibit MKs from bringing such objects into the mail hall. Speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud ) complained to the Ethics Committee that incidents such as Tiviaev's reoccur and asked the panel to take steps to end such misbehavior.
Tiviaev appeared before the committee and said he had no intention to attack the prime minister.
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