No to Legislative Opportunism

Passing bills like the amendment to the anti-infiltration law during a period of uncertainty and ambiguous governance would be an unacceptable political injustice.

African asylum seekers at the Holot detention facility protest the expulsion from Israel of others, February 17, 2014.
African asylum seekers at the Holot detention facility protest the expulsion from Israel of others, February 17, 2014.Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz

The outgoing Knesset, despite its short term, has been characterized by a stream of problematic legislation that undermines Israeli democracy. All these bills were submitted by members of the right-wing government.

These include the Jewish nation-state bill in its various versions, which promotes inequality and discrimination against the state’s non-Jewish citizens; the amendment to the Prevention of Infiltration Law, which is not substantially different from the previous amendments declared unconstitutional by the High Court of Justice; the proposal to rescind citizenship from those involved in terror and their families, which turns the principle of citizenship into a privilege the regime can revoke at its discretion; and the so-called Haneen Zoabi law, which would remove an MK for divisive remarks during wartime, would provide the Knesset, a political body, with judicial authority, and which was aimed primarily at Arab MKs, who have already been labeled traitors and terrorists by right-wing MKs.

These bills, which do immeasurable harm to the fabric of Jewish-Arab relations, human and civil rights, and other democratic principles, are in various stages of approval. Those who worked to slow or block their advancement were generally the ministers of Yesh Atid and Hatnua. With their dismissal and the rocking of the political boat, it would be appropriate to wait until a permanent government and new Knesset are formed before debating these problematic bills or advancing them further. Legislative opportunism during a period of uncertainty and ambiguous governance would be an unacceptable political injustice.

This applies especially to the amendment to the anti-infiltration law which the Interior Committee, headed by Miri Regev, is debating in marathon hearings in accordance with the timetable the High Court of Justice set for the government.

When it invalidated the previous amendment, the High Court said that if by a certain deadline (which falls three weeks from today), an alternative law was not passed, then the Holot detention facility would have to be closed and its 2,230 residents freed. The new amendment, which the Interior Committee is rushing to pass with the blessing of the attorney general, merely continues the legal and moral injustice of the two amendments that preceded it, since it permits, without due process, the detention of people who are entitled to collective protection.

The attempt to enact this law, which has the identical constitutional failings of its predecessors, is an illegitimate attack by the Knesset and the government on the court and the rule of law – all the more so because the government and the Knesset are expected to dissolve shortly and go to elections. Opposition members old and new must vote against the amendment and fulfill their obligation to curb the collapsing destructive government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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