The Knesset Ethics Committee on Wednesday suspended controversial MK Oren Hazan from participating in parliamentary debates for a month, due to a series of complaints against him.
The ban prevents Hazan from proposing bills and participating in plenary and committee meetings. It does not, however, stop him from voting, a right the Ethics Committee cannot take away from Knesset members.
The decision comes as a state comptroller report on party spending during primary campaigns says Hazan failed to report his expenditure and accuses him of lying in an affidavit declaring his expenses, a crime that can carry up to a three-year custodial sentence.
The Likud lawmaker has recently found himself facing harsh public scrutiny over various reports of wrongdoing, including last week when he was roundly criticized for appearing to make fun of a disabled fellow MK.
“Need Issawi to help you?” Hazan shouted at wheelchair-bound Karin Elharar, who suffers from muscular dystrophy, during an overnight vote on amending the universal draft law. Hazan had previously accused Elharar of illegal double-voting after she asked Meretz MK Issawi Frej to help her cast her vote in the plenum.
In response to Wednesday’s Ethics Committee decision Hazan said it was Elharar who should be punished and not him.
“As someone who exposed the double voting of MK Frej, which they have refused to check or discuss, and as someone who didn’t say a word, definitely nothing bad, about MK Elharar, I am waiting for the decision of the Ethics Committee on my complaint that Elharar cursed me in the plenum as ‘garbage, nothing, a dead person,’” he said.
The full text the Ethics of Committee decision was being presented to the Knesset plenary on Wednesday evening.
Hazan, who entered politics ahead of the March elections, was at the center of a number of scandals earlier this year after television exposés accused him of sexual assault, soliciting prostitutes and using crystal meth when he managed a European casino. Last month he filed a libel lawsuit against a Channel 2 reporter for a “tsunami of false accusations” against him.
“There has been a campaign of lies and persecution against me, such as has never been seen before in Israel,” he told journalists.
In the Channel 2 report, entitled “Prostitutes, drugs and the deputy speaker of the Knesset,” two Israeli tourists and a casino employee confirmed that Hazan would provide prostitutes for his guests in the Burgas casino in which he held a stake. Both prostitution and hard-drug use are illegal in Bulgaria.
Hazan denied the allegations at the time but the report prompted Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein to block Hazan from presiding over any Knesset meetings “until further notice.”
The rookie lawmaker’s father Yehiel Hazan lost his Knesset seat after he was caught casting a double-vote in the plenum, and then attempting to remove a voting computer from a Knesset storage room to hide evidence of the act.