Jerusalem (TPS) – The Israeli parliament officially ratified into law on Tuesday evening a bill dubbed the “expulsion law,” which permits the Knesset plenum to oust fellow lawmakers for inciting racism and supporting an armed campaign against Israel.
Members of the opposition had filed several reservations during the first and second readings of the bill, but withdrew all of them at once in an attempt to surprise the coalition with an early vote. Despite these efforts, the vote passed by a majority of 62 MKs, who voted in favor of the law versus 47 who voted against it.
According to the new law, a majority of 90 MKs in the 120-seat Knesset would be required to dismiss a member of parliament. The expelled lawmaker will be allowed to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court. However, no expulsion of an MK will be possible during an election campaign, and the law will not apply retroactively to actions taken before the law was passed.
“The Knesset will no longer be covering for terrorism and racism,” MK Nissan Slomiansky (Jewish Home), the bill’s sponsor, told Tazpit Press Service (TPS). “The MKs receive their salaries from the state and cannot use them to undermine its core principles. The status and resources afforded to Knesset members are aimed at serving the public and not at serving terrorism and racism. If an MK does not agree with the law, they are welcome to remove themselves from office.”
The bill has caused controversy since it has been perceived as discriminative, specifically targeting Arab lawmakers. “The law is anti-democratic and aimed at members of my party,” said MK Ahmed Tibi of the Joint List party in an interview with Israel Radio. “Democracy means tolerance for dissenting opinions even if they are outrageous or considered provocative by the majority.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to the critics of the bill on Wednesday morning by claiming that “we finally put an end to the absurd. Those who support terrorism against Israel will not serve in the Israeli Knesset.”
Ilana Messika contributed to this article.