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Israel: Laws Authorize Expulsion of Lawmakers Engaged in Incitement to Racism or Support of Armed Struggle Against the State

(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.)