During the impeachment debate
During the impeachment debatePress Release

The Knesset has voted against impeaching MK Ofer Cassif (Hadash).

The vote followed several hours of debates and was the subject of significant speculation as to whether certain factions that usually oppose one another, such as the haredi parties and Avigdor Liberman's Yisrael Beiteinu, would align on the issue.

Impeachment of an MK requires a minimum of 90 votes. Only 85 voted in favor.

11 MKs opposed the motion.

MK Oded Forer (Yisrael Beiteinu), who initially brought the motion, stated “MK Cassif believes that our soldiers are war criminals. He believes that those in the war cabinet or war criminals. that is why we are here, to say never again. No one will sit in the Israeli Knesset so as to act against Israel.”

“Supreme Court Justice Barak stated in his opinion in the ICJ that if the case were to be accepted, Israel would not be able to defend itself. What we need now is someone to protect the state of Israel. MK Cassif has not retracted, despite one opportunity after another to do so, including this one.”

“I would like to speak to the other MKs - you were elected to make decisions, and here you need to vote according to what you think, not according to what someone else in the Supreme Court will think. Vote for IDF soldiers, who are currently on the front, risking their lives, well someone here in the Knesset claims they are war criminals while defending us.”

Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Liberman responded to the results: “I am very disappointed that specifically in the vote to impeach terror supporter Ofer Cassif, opposition leader Yair Lapid, former Defense Minister Benny Gantz, and former Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot decided to support Cassif and not IDF soldiers. In the case of impeaching Ofer Cassif, we are not talking about damaging freedom of speech but rather halting freedom of division. Instead of MKs protecting IDF soldiers, they have abandoned them.”

Religious Zionist Party leader Bezalel Smotrich wrote: “Those who leave an MK who supports terror and incites against Israel during a war in office have lost their way. The anti-Zionist left opposes the existence of the state of Israel as a Jewish and Democratic State and protects Cassif. I call for Eizenkot, Gantz, and Lapid, who in this vote joined the most extreme leftists in Israel to tell us their reasons. What, in God's name, are you protecting?”

Otzma Yehudit leader Itamar Ben-Gvir commented: “Lapid and Gantz are left-wing and weak.”

Opposition leader Yair Lapid wrote: “I am disappointed that Avigdor Liberman and Yisrael Beiteinu prefer to gain credit through the use of IDF soldiers instead of removing him appropriately - canceling his immunity and bringing him up on charges.”

Cassif himself commented, following the decision: “And now for the truly important goals - stopping the war, for the good of both nations.”

During the debate, Cassif stated: “This attempt at impeachment is based on a complete lie - that I support the armed struggle of Hamas. There is nothing further from the truth and no more repulsive lie than this. Behind this lie upon which the impeachment vote is based is a clear malicious motive - the political persecution and suppression of any criticism in general, and specifically of Arab citizens and their representatives in Knesset, with the end goal being completely banning them from public and parliamentary discourse.”

“My statements against Hamas and its crimes on October 7th were displayed in the Knesset House Committee. All of them include a clear and strong opposition to the massacre and other disturbing crimes of Hamas. My decision to join the petition supporting the process planned by South Africa in the ICJ was based on three values - liberalism, truth, and life.”

“A liberal democracy cannot take for granted the statements of the government and its institutions. I am not ready to accept as fact the claims of the government as to what is happening in Gaza. Blind faith in the institutions of the government exists only in dictatorships. The basis of my signature on the petition was casting doubt on the statements of the government of Israel about what is happening in Gaza. Similarly, the text of the petition itself does not claim genocide is being committed, only that the situation presented in the statement of claim will lead to genocide.”

Cassif concluded: “Before signing the petition I warned in the plenum against harm to innocence and the humanitarian disaster that was taking place in Gaza. The thing that has led me more than anything else is the value of life. The petition essentially calls for the end of the fighting and bloodshed. You can be angry at my signature, but there is no connection between that and supporting armed resistance.”

New Hope leader Gideon Sa’ar wrote: “There is not, and never was, any good reason to remove MK Zev Elkin’s proposal regarding unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state from the Knesset agenda. If the majority of the Knesset would vote for a tougher proposal than the one the government proposed, which expresses the decisive majority of the Knesset that opposes a Palestinian state on a fundamental level, that would only be an improvement.”

Hadash, Cassif’s party, appealed to other parties in an attempt to convince them not to support the proposal, or at least not to vote on it. Most of the efforts were directed at the UTJ party, to influence its members to abstain.

The Yesh Atid party allowed MKs to vote as they pleased. Opposition leader Yair Lapid voted against. The National Unity party also allowed its members to vote freely. New Hope leader Gideon Sa’ar and MKs Yifat Shasha-Biton, Zev Elkin, and Sharren Haskel all voted in favor of impeachment.

MK Naor Shiri (Yesh Atid) wrote: “During the meeting of the House Committee that was supposed to be the judicial committee for this, I was present and voted in favor of moving the vote to the plenum. I would have gone against my own conscience, and in my opinion also against my duties as an MK, if I had voted to impeach him. MK's do not need, and are not able, to impeach one another.”

MK Elazar Stern (National Unity) wrote: “Ofer Cassif should not be in the Knesset. We need to do everything so that he does not remain in Knesset, and if his immunity were to be removed, I would support it. On the other hand, we as MKs will not judge other MKs. There are those here who have done worse. Do not test me in nationalism or Zionism, you will not beat me in these fields. If you truly fear for the state and the soldiers, support those who serve first and stop supporting those who evade service. Take responsibility, and more importantly leadership.”