Meretz MK Michal Rozin on Friday asked the Knesset Ethics Committee to look into a Likud lawmaker’s fiery tirade against the coalition, in which he appeared to threaten to lock up legal officials and discharge Supreme Court judges.
This is the first complaint to be lodged with the ethics panel since its formation this week; however, it is not clear if the panel can legally function amid an opposition boycott of most Knesset committees.
In an audio conversation with Twitter users this week, David Amsalem railed at the coalition, saying he would bar its members from parliament grounds if he were Knesset speaker.
“They can go to their Supreme Court. We’ll also replace the judges there immediately — on the day we win… We will trample them,” Amsalem said.
He vowed that if former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party regains power, “we will drop laws on their heads that they won’t recover from in 20 years.”
The Likud MK also lashed out at the legal advisers of government ministries.
“These are wolves that devour everything that moves — if we don’t know how to restrain them and put them in a pen, they’ll ultimately eat us again and then the country will head toward the abyss. That’s what I believe,” Amsalem said.
The Likud MK also described the current government as a “crazy, Bolshevik, anti-Zionist gang that took over the country. The government of Palestine. Floor rags.”
Rozin highlighted Amsalem’s comments in a complaint sent to the Knesset Ethics Committee’s chairman, Yesh Atid MK Yorai Lahav-Hertzano.
“These are wildly anti-democratic remarks… which rise to the level of incitement to real violence,” the Meretz MK wrote. “These remarks have no place in Israeli society, even less so in the Israeli parliament.”
Rozin asked Lahav-Hertzano to hold an “urgent” committee meeting concerning Amsalem and to sanction him.
Amsalem did not comment directly on Rozin’s letter, but gave no indication he was backing away from his remarks.
“I understand that in left-wing and elite circles, the stomachs of the rulers are churning and they are shocked when I hurl in their faces the simple truth of the national camp,” he tweeted Friday.
Rozin filed the complaint after Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy announced Wednesday that he was unilaterally setting up the Ethics Committee by ordering two opposition MKs to sit on the panel. Many opposition parties are engaged in an ongoing boycott of parliamentary forums over what they say is a balance of power in them that is unfair to the opposition.
The committee is composed of two coalition lawmakers and two from the opposition. It handles all matters relating to the ethical behavior of MKs and complaints against them.
Levy appointed fellow Yesh Atid MK Yorai Lahav-Hertzano to chair the committee. New Hope MK Zvi Hauser, also of the coalition, was selected, along with opposition lawmakers Gila Gamliel (Likud) and Ya’akov Margi (Shas). Opposition MK Osama Saadi of the Joint List and Sharon Roffe Ofir of the coalition party Yisrael Beytenu were appointed as alternate committee members.
On Thursday, both Margi and Gamliel resigned from the committee. Levy has the power to order other MKs to join the committee. Reports Friday said the Joint List’s Saadi would also not sit on the committee, and that Levy might seek to change the law to enable former MKs to sit.
While Likud recently reiterated its intention to continue boycotting Knesset committees to protest what the opposition claims is an underrepresentation of its lawmakers, Shas has nominated some of its MKs to certain panels.
Some Likud lawmakers have expressed opposition to establishing the Ethics Committee, claiming it would focus on hounding party members, according to a recording aired by the Kan public broadcaster earlier this month.
There has been an ongoing dispute about the composition of Knesset committees that initially saw all opposition parties participating in a boycott due to what they alleged was their disproportionately low representation.
Last month, some parties dropped the boycott and began sending lawmakers to staff key panels, after the High Court of Justice refused to intervene in the parliamentary dispute and force the coalition to change the makeup of the committees. The court ruled that the matter did not justify judicial intervention.