Knesset gives initial nod to bill banning convicted terrorists from running for office

The Knesset gave initial approval to a bill banning anyone convicted of terror from running for the Knesset for a period of 14 years. Some Arab lawmakers are upset. 

By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News

The Knesset Plenum earlier this week approved the first reading of a bill that bans any person convicted of terrorism or a severe security offense, or who was sentenced to at least seven years in prison, from running for the Knesset for a period of 14 years, beginning on the day he or she is released from prison.

Eighty-three lawmakers, comprising two thirds of the Knesset, voted in favor of the legislation in the first reading, while 13 were opposed. The bill will now be transferred to the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee for further discussion.

“The bill I initiated provides the correct balance between our values and our right to protect ourselves from those who seek to uproot our very existence,” Member of Knesset (MK) Anat Berko, a terrorism expert, said during the debate that preceded the vote.

”My law seeks to prevent the election of terrorists to the Israeli Knesset. This is an important and necessary law which will prevent people such as Basel Ghattas from being elected again. People who were convicted of terror mustn’t be allowed to find their way back to the Knesset,” she stated.

Former MK Basel Ghattas, an Israeli-Arab lawmaker of the Arab Joint List, began serving a two-year prison term in July after pleading guilty to charges that he had used his parliamentary immunity to help imprisoned Palestinians continue their terror activities.

Ghattas was convicted in March of giving cellphones to jailed senior terrorists belonging to Hamas and Fatah and taking written messages to them.

‘Majority must protect itself from the minority’

”In this case, the majority must protect itself from the minority, because the minority has joined the enemies of Israel and is operating against the country,” Berko stated.

MK Hanin Zoabi of the Arab Joint List called the new bill “a law of political persecution under the guise of the war against terror. There is complete confusion here between terror and the struggle for democracy.”

Zoabi herself has been embroiled with anti-Israel and Palestinian terror elements.

She was on board the Mavi Marmara flotilla during the incident in which nine Turkish nationals were killed after beating IDF soldiers with metal pipes.

After the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens by Hamas terrorists in June 2014, Zoabi said that “(the kidnappers) are not terrorists……they are people who do not see any way to change their reality, and they are compelled to use means like these.”

Both instances, among others, led to accusations of treason from Knesset members.