Uproar in Knesset as MKs Call Feiglin 'Fascist'

Opposition MKs verbally attack MK Moshe Feiglin on Knesset plenum; two MKs removed from the plenary after making threats, hurling insults.

Ido Ben-Porat,

Moshe Feiglin at Knesset debate
Moshe Feiglin at Knesset debate
Flash 90

Recriminations abound in the Knesset Monday, as MK Moshe Feiglin (Likud) removed MK Mohammed Barakeh (Hadash) from the stand after Barakeh threatened to "choke" him.  

MK Jamal Zahalka (Balad) then joined in on the unrest, being forcibly removed by security from the platform after he called Feiglin a "fascist."

Both moves sparked loud cries of protest from the Opposition and general confusion in the plenary.

"If you think I'm going to capitulate to that kind of verbal violence, you're wrong," Feiglin responded on the podium.  

Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud) said that "such statements [calling Feiglin] a 'fascist, neo-Nazi or a traitor' - these expressions cannot wait [to be judged upon in] the Ethics Committee."

"Expressions of this kind are destroying the ability to talk to each other," Steinitz continued, "and I'm surprised at those who sit here, ready to give a hand to these expressions."

"After [some] called the Prime Minister a traitor we said that no one could say such things here," he added.

Steinitz's words were not enough to silence the political Left, however. 

"Fascism is a compliment for you," MK Ilan Gilon (Meretz) retorted. "What have you done to [Likud MK] Miri Regev when she called [Balad MK Hanin] Zoabi a traitor? Do you have a double standard?"

Opposition leader MK Yitzhak Herzog also attacked Feiglin. 

"What happened here is clearly an unfathomable act," Herzog fired, claiming that it violated "freedom of thought and democracy." 

"You take Barakeh, a party leader, and remove him from the plenum like a piece of furniture without warning him first," he continued. "You lower the MK to your level. We can say harsh and unpleasant things here, you have to learn to accept that."

"This is unacceptable and we will demand a hearing on this in the Knesset Ethics Committee in order to investigate this fully," he added.

Footage (in Hebrew) of the exchange was covered by the Knesset Channel

The heated debate emerges just as tension in the coalition are at an all-time high, following the postponement of the preliminary reading for the Jewish State Law. 

The 'Jewish State Law' is comprised of two bills by three MKs: Ze'ev Elkin (Likud), Yariv Levin (Likud), and Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home). Both bills, which are similar in their principles, effectively raise the Jewish influence on the legal system, elevating it over the "democratic" elements of Israel's identity as a "democratic and Jewish state."

The bills thrust the coalition into crisis, however, after the government decided Sunday upon Netanyahu's insistence that all coalition MKs and ministers will be bound by coalition discipline in the vote, and must vote in favor of it - despite vocal opposition from Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who has vowed to vote against it. 

The decision to defer the preliminary Knesset vote stemmed primarily from Foreign Minister and Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman, who maintained that finding an acceptable compromise over the bill - even if it takes time - is preferable to early elections. Herzog urged both Justice Minister Tzipi Livni (Hatnua) and Finance Minister Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) to leave the coalition earlier Monday. 




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