Knesset Panel Mulls Dropping 'Incitement to Racism' Clause From Bill on MKs’ Behavior

Committee chairman Nissan Slomiansky views chances of ‘suspension bill’ dropping incitement to racism clause as slim.

Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee chairman MK Nissan Slomiansky.
Emil Salman

The head of the Knesset committee drafting the so-called “suspension bill” is mulling the removal of a clause that would allow Knesset members to be barred from the legislature for incitement to racism. If it is withdrawn, the bill would then apply chiefly to MKs who have committed incitement to terror.

The bill is an amendment to the Basic Law on the Knesset and calls for the suspension of MKs for certain extremist conduct. Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee chairman Nissan Slomiansky is considering removing the racism clause at the behest of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Critics say the new bill is targeting certain Israeli-Arab MKs.

According to Slomiansky (Habayit Hayehudi), the groundwork for eliminating the racism clause has been laid by the uncovering over recent months of instances of Jewish terror, which would mean the law would also apply to any right-wing lawmakers encouraging such actions.

However, Slomiansky describes the chances of the racism clause being excluded from the bill as slim. He plans to ask the Knesset panel’s legal adviser about it today.

According to a source close to the prime minister who is involved in the formulation of the bill, the clause is “complex” and the chances of it moving ahead are unclear. Another source said, “The prime minister wants the bill to pass. He is less interested in the small details. My impression is that, as far as Netanyahu is concerned, this bill can be diluted and made less significant: the main thing is for it to pass.”

Slomiansky is also considering splitting the new bill into a number of separate bills, to ensure that some of the clauses pass in case the 61 Knesset votes required to change a Basic Law cannot be mustered for all of them.

Netanyahu met with Slomiansky last Wednesday in an effort to coordinate their approach.

Slomiansky’s committee will hold its first hearing on the bill’s latest version on Tuesday. He canceled an earlier meeting after a number of MKs expressed reservations about the law, and he then asked Netanyahu to ensure that the entire coalition was behind the bill.