Full Knesset session
Full Knesset session Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

The Knesset Ethics Committee on Monday issued a warning to MKs: Watch your mouths, because Knesset members who insult, curse, or slander them – directly or behind their back – will find themselves in big trouble.

According to the Committee, there is no MK who has not at one time or another engaged in “nasty” talk to others – some more severe, and some less so. However, the Committee said in a letter to MKs, the Knesset was not the place for such behavior.

“Punishments cannot be given unless a warning is provided,” the letter was titled, echoing a well-known tenet of Jewish law. “While the Committee will continue to defend the rights of MKs to speak their minds, we will not tolerate negative expressions aimed at embarrassing or shaming others.” Sanctions for offenders will include suspension from Knesset proceedings (but not necessarily suspension of pay or benefits), or more “advanced” action in the case of unrepentant offenders.

The Committee said that it was issuing the letter at this time because of the “sharp increase in vituperative statements by MKs in recent weeks.” In one biting exchange last week, MK Yitzhak Cohen of Shas accused Likud MK Oren Hazan of being a “serial gambler,” to which Hazan responded, “you have mortally wounded me. Do you want me to tell everyone where I met you that time?”

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