MKs to face fines for Knesset property damage

Law passes late Monday demanding responsibility for gimmicks during debates which damage Knesset property.

Tova Dvorin ,

MK Ahmed Tibi
MK Ahmed Tibi
Hadas Parush/Flash 90

Members of Knesset will soon face fines for damage to Knesset facilities during gimmicky debates, Committee Chairman MK David Bitan (Likud) stated Monday. 

Bitan's bill passed its second and third readings Monday, thus being ratified into law. 

The bill could have wide-ranging ramifications on how Knesset debates are run, as MKs are known to get particularly emphatic over controversial issues on a regular basis, and mishaps have become commonplace. 

For example, MK Ahmad Tibi (Joint List) was suspended from Knesset sessions briefly in 2013 after he poured water on the Knesset's loudspeaker system in protest over the approval of the law which legalizes pirate Bedouin settlement in the Negev.

"Ahmed Tibi, for an example from a previous term, made a gimmick by pouring water on computers and communications systems, and caused damage worth 20,000 shekels," Bitan stated to Walla! News. (The sum was equivalent to $5,556 in US dollars for July 2013 - ed.). 

"The Knesset cannot file a claim against an elected MK, but a person should be responsible for his actions and serve as an example," he added. "If he has done any act that caused the damage, whether intentionally or out of indifference to action - he has to pay for it. We set the maximum amount to be ten thousand shekel." 

Bitan noted that the bill is separate from other laws demanding damages for fights between Knesset members, as MKs have thrown water on each other during debates before. This law, he said, is specifically to compensate for damages to Knesset property. 

He added that he intends to increase enforcement of existing laws regarding other breaches of proper Knesset conduct, such as MKs who regularly skip debates or committee meetings. 

"The Ethics Committee is authorized, if an MK does not come to a certain amount of meetings, to offset some of his salary," he noted, lamenting that these rules were rarely enforced.