Nine Supreme Court justices unanimously rejected on Sunday, May 27, the petition submitted by MK Yousef Jabareen (Hadash – Joint List), Adalah and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) against Israel’s anti-democratic Expulsion Law. According to the law, which was passed in 2016, 90 members of the 120 seat Knesset can oust any one of their parliamentary colleagues.
Supreme Court President Esther Hayut expressed the unanimous opinion of the nine judges who participated in the special panel, writing in the verdict that while the law “seriously infringes basic rights,” it contains a system of checks and balances and “it cannot be said that it contradicts the core of the state’s democratic identity.”
The totalitarian law that allows legislators to expel “errant colleagues” was spearheaded by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2016 and adopted by the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee chairman Nissan Slomiansky (HaBayit HaYehudi).
Far-right MK Michael Oren (Kulanu) supported the bill, but said it does not go far enough and is not “democratic enough.” Oren, an American citizen, cited the US Constitution, which states that a member of Congress can be expelled “for disorderly behavior” with a two-thirds majority vote. Again, Israel’s law demands a larger majority: 90 members (three-fourths of the full Knesset) must vote to expel the targeted MK.
To further justify his contention that the Israeli law does not go far enough, Oren gave an example to which said he believes the law should apply, but does not in its current version. In April 2016, Joint List chairman MK Ayman Odeh (Hadash) sent a letter via the Palestinian delegation to the UN calling on then UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon to send a fact-finding mission to Israel to investigate its treatment of its Arab minority and land evictions of Arab-Bedouins in the Negev. For Oren, Odeh’s action warrants his expulsion from the Knesset.
For his part, MK Jabareen called the law the “tyranny of the majority,” and added that it was drafted to target Arab lawmakers. Jabareen sent letters detailing his grievances about the law to the UN special rapporteur on minority rights in Geneva and the ambassador of the European Union in Israel: “The far-right coalition has tabled legislation that would enable the impeachment of duly elected representatives of the Arab Palestinian public… Israel has veered far from acceptable norms of democratic discourse and practice.”
According to Jabareen, the bill seeks “to dispose Arab MKs in order to silence them and the views they [the majority] find intolerable [which] invalidates tens of thousands of legitimately cast votes. Furthermore, the threat of expulsion will serve as a silencing tactic, while also impeding MKs’ ability to faithfully fulfill the mandate they promised to their voters.”