A law that must not pass
The Basic Law on the Knesset is meant to be a law that is not touched, changed or suited to the spirit of the moment or the changing desires of Knesset members. But restraint is not a hallmark of the members of the present House, which is not overflowing with real parliamentarians.
The Basic Law on the Knesset is meant to be a law that is not touched, changed or suited to the spirit of the moment or the changing desires of Knesset members. It is the Basic Law that ensures the fundamental right to vote and to be elected.
But restraint is not a hallmark of the members of the present House, which is not overflowing with real parliamentarians. It is no surprise that MKs Zevulun Orlev and Esterina Tartman are the ones whose names are on this proposed amendment.
The bill, which is to be presented to the legislature for its second and third readings in the coming days, would amend the Basic Law on the Knesset so that a person who has visited an enemy country would not be able to stand for election to the Knesset. Such a visit would be considered "supporting the armed struggle against the State of Israel." The prohibition would be retroactive for seven years, starting from when the amendment is passed. The law refers to all citizens of Israel, but is intended to prevent Arab citizens from visiting Arab countries. The prohibition is a sweeping one; it does not matter what the purpose of the visit has been.
It may be assumed that the bill reflects a longing for some of the Arab Knesset members of the old school, the kind who assimilated obediently into the large parties and tried to quietly promote the interests of their sector. But the Arab sector, which has been suffering for years from inequality, has developed another type of MK, who views the Arab world as an audience for its message. They try to promote the interests of Arab Israelis through their diasporas, just as Israeli Jews promote their interests in the Jewish Diaspora. The Arab MKs (not all of them) have entered enemy countries using their essential parliamentary immunity, because they see these trips as part of their job.
Clearly, the proposed change in the law does not add to the security of the country, but only to the public relations efforts of the lawmakers who initiated it. These trips have for some reason become like a red flag to other Knesset members who have never made a special effort at coexistence or breaking down the barriers of hatred between Israel and Arabs.
It is especially disturbing that the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, which should be acting to block harmful, hyperactive legislation, found it proper to vote for the bill. Accordingly, and unfortunately, it will probably pass this week.
Clause 7 of the Basic Law on the Knesset already states that an individual who denies the existence of Israel as a Jewish and a democratic state, incites to racism, or supports the armed struggle of enemy countries or a terror organization against the State of Israel, cannot stand for election to the Knesset. Another unnecessary, insulting and damaging limitation should not be added.
It is doubtful that the visit of a Syrian legislator to Israel would be received here as an act of support for war rather than as a breakthrough to peace. Visits of MKs to countries with which Israel has no diplomatic relations, like visits to the Soviet Union in the 1950s, or by U.S. congressmen to Vietnam during the war between those two countries, are part and parcel of the work of elected public officials.