Knesset plenum
Knesset plenumIsrael news photo: Flash 90

The Knesset Ethics Committee decided Tuesday morning to deny MK Ahmed Tibi (Ra'am Ta'al) the right to take part in the assembly's minute-long speeches for a month, starting immediately.

The ban follows Tibi's use of the minute-long speech three weeks ago, to utter demeaning language and outright profanity in Arabic regarding MK Anastassia Michaeli (Yisrael Beitenu). Michaeli had been involved in an incident with another Arab Knesset member, MK Raleb Majadle, in the course of which she purposely doused him with a glassful of water

Tibi refused to stop talking even when the session chairman, MK Yitzchak Vaknin (Shas), demanded that he do so. "I despise you and I despise this Knesset," Tibi told him.

Following the decision to discipline Tibi, two Jewish MKs from leftist parties came out swinging in his defense. MK Shlomo Molla (Kadima) and MK Eitan Cabel (Labor) asked Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin to dissolve the Ethics Committee in its present make-up and appoint new members to man it. The present make-up of the committee, they wrote, is "biased and unbalanced."

The decision to ban Tibi from one-minute speeches for a month constitutes "ideologically based harassment of MK Tibi by the committee," the two argued. "We do not justify the deeds of those involved, but ut seems that the Ethics Committee has become a tool for silencing Knesset Members who do not share the committee's outlook."

Michaeli was barred from the Knesset plenum and committees for a month following the water incident.