ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 142

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Ethics panel sanctions Likud MK for blaming terror attack on Supreme Court chief

Railing at decision, Tally Gotliv vows to skip votes until she can again speak in plenum, committees; 2 other Likud MKs, Hadash-Ta’al leader also punished for various incidents

Likud MK Tally Gotliv speaks during an event at Airport City, March 20, 2023. (Flash90)
Likud MK Tally Gotliv speaks during an event at Airport City, March 20, 2023. (Flash90)

The Knesset’s Ethics Committee on Tuesday punished a lawmaker from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party for her incendiary assertion last month that Supreme Court Chief Justice Esther Hayut was to blame for a deadly Palestinian terror attack.

The panel, noting that Likud MK Tally Gotliv doubled down on her accusation and hasn’t walked it back in any way, said the remark was not protected by freedom of speech and was a “severe ethics violation.” It unanimously barred her from speaking in the Knesset plenum for two days and in parliamentary committees for three days.

“Knesset members will maintain the honor of the Knesset and its members, behave in a way appropriate to their station and duties as Knesset members, and refrain from improperly using their immunity and rights as Knesset members,” the panel wrote in the decision, quoting a parliamentary ethics rule.

Gotliv responded that she was “embarrassed” at the attempt to “terrorize” her and that in protest, she will not attend votes in the parliament until her punishment is over.

“I’m not a toy,” she said, accusing the committee members from her Likud party and the coalition’s Shas of “seeking to calm the atmosphere at my expense,” referring to political tensions over the government’s judicial overhaul plan.

“Who needs enemies when the ethics committee with our members acts like this?” she added.

Despite her threat, the 64-seat coalition did not appear to be in danger of losing any votes without Gotliv.

Left: Supreme Court Chief Justice Esther Hayut at a court hearing in Jerusalem, January 2, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90); Right: Likud MK Tally Gotliv attends a Constitution, Law and Justice Committee meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, January 30, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

In her tirade against Hayut, which followed a car-ramming in Jerusalem that left three dead, Gotliv claimed the Supreme Court president’s warning several weeks earlier against the proposed shakeup of the judicial system had led Israel’s enemies to commit attacks because they “identify a weakness” in Israeli society.

“I blame the Supreme Court chief justice for the terror attack,” she wrote on Twitter. “I blame her for the feeling of chaos in the Israeli nation. I accuse her of destruction and serious harm to democracy and the rule of law.”

Likud later rejected Gotliv’s narrative, saying the attack was the responsibility of the terrorist, but she has refused to retract the remark, defending herself on free speech grounds.

The panel also barred Hadash-Ta’al leader Ayman Odeh from speaking at the Knesset plenum for one day over his call last year for Arab members of Israel’s security forces to “lay down their weapons,” and for a physical altercation in 2021 with far-right MK Itamar Ben Gvir — now the national security minister — at a hospital.

Responding to the decision, Odeh said he had no regrets about the scuffle with Ben Gvir, which came as he was visiting a hunger-striking Palestinian terror suspect, whose treatment by Israel was protested by the ultra-nationalist lawmaker.

“That time I pushed him to protect the patient. This time all of [Arab] society needs to join me and we need to push him to stop fascism,” Odeh tweeted.

Screen capture from video of an altercation between leader of the far-right Otzma Yehudit party MK Itamar Ben Gvir (center-left) and MK Ayman Odeh, leader of the predominantly Arab-Israeli Joint List party, at the Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot, October 19, 2021. (Twitter)

Separately, two other Likud members, Hanoch Milwidsky and Ariel Kallner, were rebuked by the ethics committee for comments they made against Hadash-Ta’al MK Ofer Casif. Milwidsky was hit with a warning, while a note was made in Kallner’s case.

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