Knesset eases disqualification of pro-terror MKs

Plenum passes bill to disqualify candidates who support terror in words, not just in deeds, making it easier to block radical Arab MKs.

Gil Ronen ,

MK Oded Forer
MK Oded Forer
Flash 90

The Knesset passed in the preliminary reading on Wednesday a bill that would amend the Basic Law regarding the Knesset, so as to make it easier to prevent people who support terrorism from running for the Knesset.

The law known as "Basic Law: the Knesset" already forbids a person who negates the existence of Israel as a Jewish state, or who supports, through his actions, armed struggle against the state of Israel, from running for office as an MK. However, while the Elections Committee disqualified Ahmed Tibi and Azmi Bishara from running for Knesset in 2003 on these grounds, the High Court struck down this decision and enabled them to run, stating that evidence against candidates had to be more "convincing, clear and unequivocal" if they were to be blocked from running.

The new bill clarifies that the conditions for disqualifying a candidate include his words and not just his deeds.

In addition, if the bill passes, a candidate who has taken part in criminal activity against the state of Israel, or who has expressed public support for terrorist and illegal activity against the state of Israel or its citizens – will be presumed to be violating the conditions for running for Knesset. The burden of proving that this is not so will be upon him, as opposed to the current situation, in which the State is the one that has to prove that he violated the conditions.

The bill was submitted by MK Oded Forer (Yisrael Beytenu) but was supported by Coalition  members as well and passed 44:36. Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said, however, that the Coalition will not support the entire bill, but only the part that clarifies that the conditions for disqualifying a candidate include his words and not just his deeds.

"Recently, the statements by the Arab MKs against the state of Israel have increased, and some of them even incited to terrorism and supported terrorists," said Forer. "It is unacceptable that they will continue to serve as MKs and I hope that we will not see these inciters in the Knesset in the next term."

Provocations carried out by Arab MKs in recent years are too numerous to list, and many of them include elements that would appear likely to disqualify the MKs from the next Knesset, if the law passes. 

The Knesset Ethics Committee ruled on Monday night to suspend three Arab Knesset members following a public uproar over their meeting with the families of terrorists who committed murderous attacks against Israelis. 

MKs Hanin Zoabi and Basel Ghattas were suspended for a period of four months, while MK Jamal Zahalka was suspended for two months. All three are members of the Joint List's Balad faction. The three Knesset members will be barred from attending the Knesset plenum until the end of the winter session, but will still be able to vote there and in committee meetings. 

In the meeting last week, the three Arab MKs comforted the families of the terrorists, who they called "bereaved families," and promised to return the bodies of the terrorists, whom they termed "martyrs."