Minister Defends Knesset Suspension Bill: Labor, Yesh Atid MKs Previously Proposed Similar Bill

Immigrant Absorption Minister Zeev Elkin (Likud) says MKs Hilik Bar of Zionist Union and Yoel Razvozov and Elazar Stern of Yesh Atid backed similar legislation under the previous government.

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu listens to MK Zeev Elkin during a meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee  in Jerusalem.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu listens to MK Zeev Elkin during a meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee in Jerusalem.Credit: Reuters
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

Immigrant Absorption Minister Zeev Elkin on Wednesday defended the bill that would allow the Knesset to suspend a parliament member by a special majority, saying that MKs from Zionist Union and Yesh Atid had proposed a similar bill under the previous government.

While the government bill being advance now requires a majority of 90 MKs to merely suspend a colleague, the bills that the opposition MKs had sponsored made do with a regular majority of 61 MKs to permanently remove a fellow MK. MKs signed on that earlier bill included Hilik Bar of Zionist Union and Yoel Razvozov and Elazar Stern of Yesh Atid.

The bill, which never developed into legislation, sought to establish a procedure for impeaching MKs who support terror. According to Bar, “That was a totally different law. We were talking about MKs who abet terror during a time of war. It isn’t remotely similar to what the government is presenting now.”

In fact, it isn’t clear that the bills are so different. The coalition still hasn’t presented its final version of the bill; the older version submitted by Elkin says the Knesset is permitted to remove an MK who made statements of support for a terror organization or an enemy state during a war or state-sponsored military operation.

The new version evolving would allow the Knesset, with a majority of 90 MKs, to suspend a colleague for any of the three reasons for which a person can currently be blocked from running for the Knesset – for inciting to racism, inciting in support of terror or denying the existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. For the period of the suspension, the MK would be replaced by the next person on his party’s election list. The suspension period is not specified.

Elkin, who was appointed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to promote the bill, mocked the opposition during a plenum debate on bill establishing an “immigration and absorption day.”

“I’m saddened by the fact that members of Yesh Atid chose to defend Haneen Zoabi, when I got the wording of the bill I proposed from you,” Elkin said, referring to the suspension bill. “You know who initiated the previous bill? MK Hilik Bar, secretary general of the Labor Party, Yoel Razvozov, [former MKs] Rina Frenkel and Ifat Kariv, who wanted to suspend MKs who supported terror by a simple majority. MK Elazar Stern is also signed on that bill, and today he’s furiously attacking it. Go check where you were during the last Knesset and decide if you are in favor of Haneen Zoabi or in favor of the State of Israel and new immigrants.”

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