Knesset to Vote Wednesday Night on the Automatic Suspension of Convicted MKs

Law would apply to MKs convicted of crime of moral turpitude, which may include MKs Tzachi Hanegbi, Shlomo Benizri and Haim Ramon.

The Knesset Constitution Committee has completed preparing an amendment of the Basic Law on the Knesset, which calls for the automatic suspension of MKs that have been convicted of a crime of moral turpitude or have been sentenced to an active prison term.

The proposed amendment will be voted on Wednesday night. If the law is passed on its second and third reading, it will apply to Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman Tzachi Hanegbi (Kadima), MK Shlomo Benizri (Shas) and MK Haim Ramon (Kadima) - if they are convicted of a crime of moral turpitude.

While Ramon has been convicted of indecent behavior, a decision on whether the conviction carries an element of moral turpitude will only be made when he is sentenced.

If a MK is suspended, he will be replaced by the next member on his party's list.

According to the proposal, if a MK wins his appeal and the moral turpitude clause is erased from his conviction, he will be able to return to the Knesset. If the MK loses his appeal however, he will be permanently removed from office.

The proposal also states that if a MK is sentenced to an active prison term, he will be automatically suspended until he is released from prison. Until now, these suspensions required the approval of Knesset Committee.

MK Gilad Erdan (Likud) and MK Shelly Yachimovich (Labor), who proposed the bill, said the amendment is proportional and imperative since it would absolve the Knesset House Committee of responsibility for deciding on the suspensions of convicted MKs.

Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee Chairman MK Menachem Ben-Sasson (Kadima), expressed confidence that should Ramon be convicted of a crime of moral turpitude, he will resign from the Knesset. According to Ben-Sasson, the purpose of the proposal is to determine a consistent and clear line of action regarding convicted MKs.

MK Ahmed Tibi (Ra'am-Ta'al), Azmi Bishara (Balad) and Dov Hanin (Hadash) requested that the proposal not include the illegal visits taken by Arab MKs to Arab Countries, however this request was rejected by a large majority.

MK Itzhak Levy (National Religious Party) went even further and proposed that MKs be suspended the moment they are indicted and that the Knesset Committee will only be able to cancel this suspension prior to the beginning of the trial.