opposition leaders with Israeli
opposition leaders with IsraeliHezki Baruch

Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana announced today (Monday) in the Knesset plenum that MKs would not be allowed to enter the plenum for the debate and vote on parts of the government's planned judicial reforms with bags, for fear that MKs may bring items which could create disturbances and interfere with the vote.

"The amount of provocations we prevented today is great. Loudspeakers and signs, and who knows what else," MK Ohana said after several MKs complained that their bags had been checked at the entrance to the Knesset plenum.

During the debate, members of the opposition waved and draped themselves Israeli flags in the plenary. Ohana ordered them removed from the plenum immediately.

The Knesset Speaker told the MKs who had demonstrated the the flags: "I thought it might be important for your voice to be heard, but apparently you don't want that. You insult the flag the same way you insult the plenum."

The Chairman of the Knesset Constitution Committee, MK Simcha Rothman, said during the debate: "Thanks to the court, Azmi Bishara aimed Hezbollah missiles at us while using his parliamentary immunity. After the Supreme Court curtailed the legislature's authority, it continued to curtail the executive branch's authority as well by turning it into a rubber stamp for legal advisors.''

Former MK Azmi Bishara, the founder of the Arab Balad party escaped Israel in 2007 after being suspected of spying for the Hezbollah terror group during the Second Lebanon War in 2006. He is suspected of transmitting information to Hezbollah during the war, helping them more accurately target Israeli citizens with thousands of missiles. The Israeli Supreme Court had in a controversial decision allowed Bishara and other Arab MKs to run for the Knesset in 2003 despite his support for terrorism and opposition to Israel as a Jewish State. In 2008, following his fleeing the country, the Supreme Court further ruled that Bishara could continue to receive his pension as an MK despite the accusations of treason against him. The latter ruling led to the passage of the 'Bishara Law' in 2011, under which MKs who refuse to appear for interrogation in cases where they are suspected of felony crimes lose their salaries and other benefits.

MK Rothman continued: "The Supreme Court harmed the status of the judiciary and this is what lies at the heart of the amendments that are being brought in the Knesset plenum today. The Supreme Court harmed the process of selecting judges and interfered in legislative procedures.''

Earlier, an opposition activist lashed out at Prime Minister Netanyahu in the Knesset halls and screamed at him: "You corrupt person, your place is not in the Knesset, don't smile." Knesset security guards separated her from the prime minister.

Today's vote is on a key part of the government's planned judicial reforms. The bill currently under discussion at the Knesset plenum would dramatically increase the power of the Knesset and government in the judicial selection committee, which currently has a 5-to-4 majority of unelected officials, including judges and members of the Israel Bar Association.

The bill, if passed, would also explicitly bar the Supreme Court from overruling amendments to Israel’s Basic Laws.