President Reuven Rivlin
President Reuven Rivlin Yaakov Naumi/Flash 90

President Reuven Rivlin on Monday evening launched a verbal fusillade against a bill that would allow the Knesset to suspend pro-terror MKs, even though the president is supposed to act as a non-political figurehead of the state.

Speaking at the launch of Dr. Yoaz Hendel's book "In an Unsown Land" at the Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem, Rivlin said, "throughout this new book, arises the not unimportant question of 'to whom does liberalism belong?' ...Has liberalism transferred into the hands of the left, is it still in the hands of the right, or perhaps it will be possible to shape the Israeli future so that liberalism will belong to all those who are liberal." 

He then turned his attention to the bill to suspend an MK with a vote of 90 MKs out of 120, a bill that arose after three Arab MKs earlier this month visited the families of terrorist murderers to console them and pray for the terrorists.

Rivlin called the law a breach of democracy, saying that "the law to depose a Member of Knesset oversteps the reality that the Knesset is representative of the sovereign, not the sovereign itself, and places the elected above the public. ...We cannot allow the Knesset, whose representatives are chosen by the public, to independently overturn the public's choices."

"A Knesset that is able, even if justly, to today decide upon the cessation of the office of such representatives of the public, will tomorrow, unjustly do so to others, and then where will we be?"

This is not Rivlin's first time interfering with Knesset legislation. In November 2014, he bashed the Jewish state law, which was to emphasize Israel's Jewish character while retaining the democratic rights of all citizens.

On Monday Rivlin went on to condemn the three Arab Joint List MKs from the Balad faction - Hanin Zoabi, Jamal Zahalka and Basel Ghattas - who visited the families of terrorists.

"When three Members of Knesset decide to visit the families of terrorists, to spit in the faces of the citizens of Israel, in the faces of the families of the victims, in the faces of all those working to rebuild trust between the Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel – it is not only the right of the Attorney General to instruct an investigation of the facts, it is his duty to do so."

However, Rivlin said, "at the same time, even if it is appropriate that they stand trial, Heaven help us if the Knesset would be the one to sit in judgment."

"As such, it is the task of the liberal right to shape, within the right-wing camp, a fresh alternative, decisive and cutting to the narrow version of democracy. This is an ideological and educational struggle, yet one that must take place also in practice. If the liberal right will succeed in this mission, as it has succeeded in the past, it will reward the State of Israel with an invaluable gift – a government that is not only of the people, but a liberal democracy which will be of the people, and at the same time, respect the individual."