Israeli Lawmaker Oren Hazan Temporarily Removed From Knesset Over 'Offensive Statements'

'MK Hazan seems to have made it his goal to unnerve some of the female and Arab MKs and incite female MKs to engage in a degrading, shaming discourse,' the Knesset committee deciding on the matter charged

MK Oren Hazan (Likud) at the Knesset in Jerusalem prior to a vote.
Olivier Pitousi

MK Oren Hazan (Likud) on Wednesday was suspended by the Ethics Committee from the Knesset and its committees for six months over a series of sexist, chauvinist and otherwise offensive statements against his colleagues. The committee, which gave Hazan the harshest punishment it can impose, also docked his pay for a week.

The committee also suspended MKs Michal Biran and Stav Shaffir (Zionist Union) from the Knesset for a week.

Hazan, who will be permitted to take part in votes during his suspension, pushed back against the punishment, calling it personal revenge.

Hazan’s suspension followed several complaints by MKs who accused him of “offensive, inflammatory, ranting” statements, especially to female MKs and members of the Joint Arab List. It described Hazan’s behavior as bullying, rude, humiliating and sexually harassing.

“MK Hazan seems to have made it his goal to unnerve some of the female and Arab MKs and incite female MKs to engage in a degrading, shaming discourse, including sexist and chauvinist statements,” the committee said in its decision.

Biran complained to the committee that after she called Hazan a “pimp” (referring to his casino work in Burgas, Bulgaria), at a Finance Committee meeting, Hazan asked her, “Do you want to fill out a work form? Forget it, nobody would look at you anyway.” Biran said this was degrading conduct that constituted verbal sexual harassment. Hazan responded that she had first called him a pimp. Shaffir was suspended for calling MK Miki Zohar “corrupt.”

Four MKs from the Joint List complained to the attorney general that at the end of December Hazan got on a bus taking relatives of Palestinian prisoners to a visit in prison, “and cursed them and their sons in violent, crude words” like “scum” and “dogs.” Hazan responded that these were “our enemies, I didn’t say anything out of the ordinary to them.”

MKs Ahmad Tibi (Joint List) and Miki Rosenthal (Zionist Union) filed a complaint after Hazan made movements resembling a chicken at Tibi in the Knesset plenum. Hazan said, “I’m proud of what I did against Tibi, I’m preserving our national pride.”

Rosenthal also complained that Hazan called MK Jamal Zahalka (Joint List) a terrorist after U.S. President Mike Pence’s speech in the Knesset. MK Abd al-Hakim Hajj Yahya said Hazan called him a “terror supporter” when he spoke in the plenum.

Committee member MK Eyal Ben-Reuven (Zionist Union) said the committee decided to take firm measures due to the “deterioration of the Knesset rhetoric to levels we haven’t seen.”

Hazan said the suspension was a prize to terrorists. “It’s absurd that Haneen Zoabi, who attacked policemen in court and soldiers on the Marmara deck was suspended for six months, and in my case they also docked my pay, which shows it’s personal revenge,” he said.

“What’s even worse is that the Arab MKs who blew up Vice President Pence’s [Knesset] visit, for which I confronted them, are rewarded and not punished. The public will judge the most shameful, selfish and cynical Knesset speaker since Israel’s establishment,” Hazan said.