Israeli Lawmakers Face Suspension Threat for Voicing Support of 'Lone Wolf' Terrorists

MK Nissan Slomiansky (Habayit Hayehudi) set to present new, tougher version of bill in committee on Tuesday, at behest of PM Netanyahu.

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

A revised, harsher version of a controversial new bill will allow Knesset members to be suspended if they express support for a “lone wolf” terrorist, replacing the original bill’s wording that cited support for a terrorist organization or enemy state.

Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee chairman Nissan Slomiansky has written the new version, at the request of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and is set to present it Tuesday.

The bill does not limit the period of suspension MKs can impose on their colleagues. The suspension will take effect 10 days after a Knesset vote, and the next person on the party slate will enter the Knesset instead of the suspended MK – similar to the process in the new, so-called “Norwegian Law.”

The bill states explicitly that it does not apply retroactively to actions made by MKs before it takes effect. This means, for example, that it will not be possible to suspend the three Balad MKs who met recently with the families of Palestinian terrorists.

In the new version, the Knesset can suspend a member for incitement to racism or rejecting Israel’s right to exist as a democratic and Jewish nation, as well as for supporting terror.

“This is my version,” Slomiansky emphasized. He is expected to hold the first committee discussion on the bill Tuesday morning. “The new law does not relate to the definition of support for a terrorist organization, because the present wave of terror is by [lone wolves] and not an organization. When the law states ‘act of terror,’ it includes everything,” he added.

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein made it clear on Monday that he did not approve of the bill's original wording, which said that Knesset members could suspend fellow lawmakers for "behavior unbecoming a Knesset member." Edelstein, however, did not say what his position was regarding the new version of the bill, drafted by Slomiansky .

"This proposed [bill] will not be tabled as long as I am acting as speaker," Edelstein said.

The process of approving the suspension is complicated, with many questioning whether it can be put into practice: In the first stage, 61 MKs must ask the Knesset House Committee for the suspension; the panel must then vote with a three-quarters majority in favor to advance the suspension. Finally, the full Knesset must approve the suspension with a supermajority of 90 votes. The Knesset will also decide the length of the suspension.

Slomiansky is aware of the difficulty in achieving such a large majority, but noted that “even if we cannot implement it, the new law will still serve as a deterrent. An MK will know that their actions could endanger their remaining in the Knesset, and maybe reconsider them,” he said.

A suspended MK will be given an extension to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court if they so wish. In addition, an MK can have an attorney represent them during the entire suspension process in the Knesset House Committee.

As opposed to the current law, which requires the Supreme Court to approve the decision of the Central Elections Committee to ban candidates from running for the Knesset, the decision of the Knesset to suspend a serving MK will not require such approval.