First Passage for Legal Ban on Rejecting Jewish State
The Knesset, after a stormy debate, passed on first reading a proposed law calling for jail for rejecting Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. The noon vote on the bill passed by a margin of 47-34, with one abstention.
After the vote, National Democratic Assembly Knesset Member Jamal Zahalka shouted that the bill is “racist,” and he was forcibly expelled - but not before a short shouting match with Ichud Leumi (National Union) MK Aryeh Eldad.
The debate featured angry shouts by supporters and opponents. The bill, sponsored by Jewish Home MK Zevulun Orlev, calls for one year in jail for publicizing calls for denying the existence of Israel as a Jewish and democratic country.
A violation would be determined by whether the denial is “an act of hate” or expresses lack of loyalty to the state. A separate bill, sponsored by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beiteinu), calls for a loyalty oath.
Kadima MK Ronnie Bar-On charged that MK Zevulun’s bill ”endangers democracy” and suggested that the next step would be to create a “thought police” that would creates more jobs. Raam-Taal MK Masud Ganaim argued that the bill would put him in jail for speaking of equality for Arabs and Jews.
A Knesset panel will decided which committee will discuss the bill and decide whether it returns to the Knesset for second reading.