Monday, February 08, 2016

Are These Israeli Arab MK's No Less Deserving of Expulsion Than If They Were Congressmen?

There was an uproar when it was reported that members of the Balad Party visited the parents of 10 Palestinian terrorists who had attacked Israelis.

The three MKs who made the visit were Jamal Zahalka, Haneen Zoabi and Bassel Ghattas, and among the parents they met was the the father of Baha Alian, who, along with an accomplice, stabbed and shot to death three people on a bus last October.The MK's rebuffed Netanyahu's criticism of their visit by claiming that their goal was a humanitarian one -- to push for the return of the bodies of the terrorists to their families.

Lawmakers from the Joint Arab List stand in front of the Dome of the Rock
during a visit to the compound in Jerusalem's Old City, July 28. (photo credit:REUTERS)

At issue is the degree to which the MK's exceeded their supposed humanitarian concerns and made a point of empathizing with the terrorists -- and their goals.
The Balad Facebook page, brought to light by Palestinian Media Watch, called the terrorists shaheeds (martyrs) and featured a video of Alian’s father calling the meeting “warm and productive.” Ma’an, a Palestinian news agency, said the MKs took part in a moment of silence for the terrorists.
Among the possible punishments mentioned:
  • Suspensions of up to six months from all Knesset activity but voting – which is a punishment that was already meted out to Zoabi when she made comments sympathizing with Hamas during Operation Protective Edge
  • Docking their salaries.
  • If the attorney general finds their actions to be criminal, the Knesset House Committee could vote to remove their immunity, and they could be put on trial.
Considering recent claims that Israel is abandoning democracy when attempting to hold NGOs responsible to reveal foreign influence, what are the chances that again there will be an outcry that punitive measures to punish these Arab members of the Knesset who sympathize with terrorists are undemocratic?

The point was raised when Netanyahu compared Israeli MK's with US Congressmen:
"We invest great [efforts] into integrating Arab citizens in Israeli society, and they do the opposite. They build walls of hatred. I'm trying to imagine what would have happened in the British Parliament or the U.S. Congress if members would stand at attention in memory of those who had murdered British or American citizens. There would be a great outcry, and it would be justified."
In fact, the punishments suggested for the Arab MK's actions are no more than what the US Constitution allows. According to Article 1 Section 5 Clause 2:
Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behaviour, and, with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member.
In fact, while the Constitution requires a two thirds majority in order to take action, suspending members of the Knesset requires three quarters (90 out of 120 legislators).

It remains to be seen how far Israeli government is willing to go to punish the Arab MK's -- and how ready others may be willing to go to defend their actions.

Hat tip: AB

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