Primary casualties

Farewell Oren Hazan: Scandal-prone MK and others set to miss out on next Knesset

Temple Mount activist Yehudah Glick and Ayoub Kara, a minister and the only Druze in Likud’s current slate, also score too low in primaries to make it back

Likud MK Oren Hazan takes a selfie with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, and MK David Bitan, right of Netanyahu, after the passage of the nation-state law at the Knesset on July 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Olivier Fitoussi)
Likud MK Oren Hazan takes a selfie with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, and MK David Bitan, right of Netanyahu, after the passage of the nation-state law at the Knesset on July 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Olivier Fitoussi)

As the results came in from the Likud primaries Wednesday, it became clear that several current lawmakers for the ruling party will have to give up their spot in the Knesset as they failed to secure a realistic slot on the ruling party’s slate in the upcoming April elections.

They include the only Druze Likud lawmaker, as well as firebrand MK Oren Hazan, whose frequent scandals didn’t help him among the Likud members.

Most of the legislators likely missing out on the next Knesset have been lawmakers for just one term, or even less.

Here is a summary of their legislative and other activity in the Israeli parliament.

Ayoub Kara

Communications Minister Ayoub Kara speaks at a press conference about the Communications Ministry’s move to shut down the Jerusalem office of Al Jazeera on August 6, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The only minister and only non-rookie lawmaker in the list of disappointed MKs, Communications Minister Kara is currently the only Druze legislator for the ruling party.

He has been in the Knesset since 1999, with short breaks in 2006-2009 and 2013-2015. In 2017, Netanyahu appointed him as a minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and later made him communications minister.

Kara, who will turn 64 next month, has been known as a hawk who has taken relatively hardline positions on security and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He vocally opposed the 2005 withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and the settlement construction freeze in 2009-2010.

Over the years, Kara has been active in interfaith activities and in improving Israeli relations with many countries, including Turkey and Austria, as well as with Druze communities in Lebanon and Syria.

A staunch Netanyahu loyalist, he nonetheless lost the prime minister’s backing before Tuesday’s primaries, for reasons that remain unclear.

In a Facebook post Wednesday, Kara said he was disappointed, remarking that “it seems like the product of loyalty and credibility is unfortunately not in demand.”

Oren Hazan

US President Donald Trump (L) poses for a selfie with MK Oren Hazan at Ben Gurion Airport on Monday, May 22, 2017. (Oren Hazan)

Hazan, who entered the Knesset in the 2015 election, has become known as the enfant terrible of Israel’s parliament. He notoriously took a selfie with US President Donald Trump when Trump was being welcomed at Ben Gurion Airport on his arrival in Israel in May 2017, leading to a change in government protocol.

Another famous selfie was taken by Hazan with Netanyahu and other Likud lawmakers after the passage of the highly contentious nation-state law last year. Interestingly, several of the MKs who feature in that selfie will not be in the next Knesset, including Kara, Yaron Mazuz, Anat Berko, Nurit Koren and Hazan himself. David Bitan, who is in the foreground on the right, was pushed back from the 13th spot to the 25th on the post-primary Likud slate.

Shortly after he went into politics, a Hadashot news exposé alleged that Hazan had previously run a casino in Bulgaria where hard drugs and prostitution were allowed. He sued the station’s journalist Amit Segal for libel, but the court rejected the bulk of the lawsuit.

Since then, Hazan has been temporarily banned from the Knesset multiple times over various wrongdoings. Last year, the Knesset Ethics Committee handed Hazan a six-month ban on parliamentary activities, the maximum possible punishment — unprecedented in all the years of the Knesset — for a series of incidents in which he insulted fellow lawmakers.

The insults included publicly mocking a disabled colleague, telling a female MK she was too ugly to be a prostitute, and calling another wheelchair-bound MK “half a human.”

In December, he called Pnina Tamano Shata, a Yesh Atid MK of Ethiopian descent, a “token immigrant” during a Knesset committee meeting.

Hazan’s father Yehiel Hazan lost his Knesset seat after a 2003 incident in which 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.

Anat Berko

Likud MK Anat Berko attends a Foreign Affairs and Security committee meeting in the Knesset, November 19, 2015. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

Another lawmaker seen by some as a provocateur, Berko also failed to secure a good spot on the Likud slate.

In 2015, she became an MK after Netanyahu personally chose to place Berko in a spot on the Likud slate reserved for a candidate of his choice.

Berko, who holds a PhD in criminology and has researched Palestinian terrorism, made several anti-Palestinian remarks, proposed a ban on displaying the Palestinian flag, and was active in anti-BDS legislation.

Yehudah Glick

Likud MK Yehudah Glick in the Knesset, May 29, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Glick joined the Knesset in 2016 after defense minister Moshe Ya’alon resigned from the parliament and from Likud. Before that he was for decades a prominent advocate of Jewish rights on the Temple Mount. He had faced numerous arrests as well as death threats, and in 2014 he was almost killed when a Palestinian terrorist shot him three times after a Jerusalem conference, critically wounding him.

As a lawmaker, Glick has been fighting against the prevalence of smoking in Israel, and last year led a 26-day hunger strike, demanding that the tax on loose tobacco be raised to match that of cigarettes. He remarried several weeks ago, a year after the death of his first wife, Yaffa Glick.

He told reporters on Wednesday that despite his loss, he doesn’t have any regrets about his time in the Knesset.

Sharren Haskel

Likud MK Sharren Haskel at a faction meeting in the Knesset, May 30, 2016. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Haskel, the current youngest Likud MK at 34 years old, has been in the Knesset since 2015 and has been an outspoken advocate for personal freedoms and the free market.

She consistently got high scores in the annual “Liberty Index” and has fought many well-established institutions she views as infringing on personal rights such, such as the Israel Dairy Board, and was a key promoter of the drive to decriminalize recreational cannabis use. She also leads the LGBT Knesset caucus and has been an advocate for LGBT rights.

Born in Canada and having lived six years in Australia, Haskel is also a prominent defender of Israel in the international arena.

After the primaries, Haskel was placed in 40th place on the Knesset slate, too low for reelection according to current polls, which show Likud heading for about 30 seats.

However, Haskel’s status is not final. An alternative interpretation of the allocation of party spots reserved for minority and regional candidates — which take up much of the 25-40 spots — could lead to Haskel being bumped up to a much more palatable no. 29. Party courts are set to rule on the matter in the coming days.

Nurit Koren

Likud MK Nurit Koren attends a Law and Justice committee meeting in the Knesset on January 2, 2016. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

Koren, elected in 2015 following several unsuccessful bids, has been pushing for a more diverse makeup of the Supreme Court as a member of the Judicial Selection Committee, supporting efforts by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked.

She chairs a special committee on the 1950s disappearance of children of Yemenite immigrants, an embarrassing affair that has partially come to light in recent years. She also heads lobbies for people with disabilities and for aiding new immigrants from France.

Nava Boker

Knesset Member Nava Boker, June 14, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Boker is another lawmaker who was active in bringing to light details from the Yemenite children affair during her term in the Knesset. (Both Boker and Koren have Yemenite origins.)

She has been the deputy speaker of the Knesset since 2016.

In 2010, Boker’s husband died in the deadly Mount Carmel forest fire.

Yaron Mazuz

Likud MK Yaron Mazuz on March 27, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Shortly after the 2015 elections, Mazuz was appointed deputy interior minister. The following year he became a deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, where he chaired a committee responsible for an education initiative called “a computer for every kid.”

Later in 2016 Mazuz was appointed deputy minister of environmental protection, and he has acted to lower pollution levels in the Haifa Bay and was in charge of a year-long struggle to empty an ammonia tank in the city.

He recently made headlines by enlisting Elor Azaria — the former Israeli soldier who was convicted of manslaughter and imprisoned for killing an incapacitated Palestinian attacker — to support his primary campaign.

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