(July 21, 2016) On July 20, 2016, the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) passed the Basic Law: the Knesset (Amendments No. 44) (BLK), and the Knesset Law (Amendment No. 43) (KL), both dated 5776-2016. (Knesset website (click on Issue No. 216 (last visited July 20, 2016) (both laws in Hebrew); Basic Law: the Knesset, (5718 – 1958), as amended, Knesset website (unofficial translation by Dr. Susan Hattis Rolef) (last visited July 20, 2016) (the Law); Knesset Law, 5754-1994, SEFER HAHUKIM [BOOK OF LAWS, the official gazette] 5754 No. 1462, p. 140, as amended.)
The BLK authorizes the termination of Knesset membership for a Knesset Member determined by a majority of at least 90 Members to have engaged in incitement to racism or support of armed struggle against the state after being elected to the Knesset. (BLK § 1, adding subsection § 42A(c)(1) to the law.) The activities that are the subject of the determination had already constituted grounds for barring participation of candidates in elections to the Knesset under sections 7a.(a)(2-3) of the Law.
Membership termination under the new provisions may only be imposed in response to a proposal by the Knesset Committee, made based on a majority decision of three-fourths of its members, initiated by 70 Members including at least 10 from opposition parties. (BLK § 1, adding subsection § 42A (c) (2) to the Law).
The seat of a Member who is the subject of a termination determination will become vacant 14 days after the Knesset’s determination. During this 14-day period, the relevant Member will not permitted to participate in hearings in the Knesset or its committees, except for the purpose of voting. (BLK § 1, adding subsection § 42A(c)(3) to the Law.) The Knesset determination may be appealed to Israel’s Supreme Court. (BLK §1, adding subsection § 42A(c)(4) to the Law.)
The KL provides specifics for implementation of the authority to terminate a Member’s position under the BLK. A request for termination should be submitted to the Knesset chairperson in writing and should include an explanation and substantiating evidence. (KL § 1, adding subsection Chapter D1 § 8A(a) to the Knesset Law.) The Knesset Committee must not propose and the Knesset must not decide to terminate a membership unless the Member, by him/herself or through a legal representative, the Knesset Attorney, and the Government Attorney have been provided with the opportunity to express their views. (Id., adding § 8A(c) to the Knesset Law.) The KL provides time limits for consideration of a membership termination request by the Knesset Committee and by the Knesset at large, as well as for filing an appeal to the Supreme Court. (Id., adding § 8A(d-g) to the Knesset Law.)