Joint List MK booted from Knesset committees over series of incendiary remarks

Ethics Committee sanctions Ofer Cassif for rest of summer session after he backed boycott of Israel, called Likud MK a neo-Nazi and told a second Likud MK to ‘go rape another one’

Joint List MK Ofer Cassif eats a lollipop in the Knesset in Jerusalem on November 3, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Joint List MK Ofer Cassif eats a lollipop in the Knesset in Jerusalem on November 3, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The Knesset’s Ethics Committee voted on Wednesday to bar Joint List MK Ofer Cassif from participating in any parliamentary committee hearings for a month over a series of incendiary remarks he made against fellow lawmakers and civilians.

One of the Knesset’s most critical lawmakers of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Cassif has long butted heads with other MKs.

A series of Ethics Committee complaints were filed against the fiery MK, the only Jewish member of the predominantly Arab Joint List party, in recent months, leading the panel to convene on Wednesday.

At the conclusion of the hearing, it announced its decision to bar Cassif from committee appearances until the end of the summer parliamentary session in late July.

Explaining its decision, the panel pointed to a post he wrote after a meeting with representatives of the Workers’ Party of Belgium in which he hailed a municipality’s decision in the country to “boycott Israel as long as the occupation and the fascism continues.”

In another pair of incidents cited by the Ethics Committee, Cassif called Likud MK Ariel Kellner a “neo-Nazi” and told another Likud MK, Hanoch Milwidsky, to “go rape another one,” in reference to a sexual assault allegation against Milwidsky. Milwidsky in response called Cassif a “worthless terror supporter.”

Hadash-Ta’al MK Ofer Cassif, left, argues with Likud MK Hanoch Milwidsky, right, at a Knesset Education, Culture and Sports Committee meeting in Jerusalem on June 19, 2023. (Screenshot: Twitter; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

The last incident cited in the decision against Cassif took place earlier this month when he was accosted by a civilian whose friend was killed in a terror attack. Cassif responded to the young man by saying, “Soon by you.”

In August, police opened an investigation into Cassif over a filmed incident several months earlier in which he was seen assaulting a police officer.

The Ethics Committee also adjudicated complaints made against Constitution Law and Justice Committee chair Simcha Rothman, who was accused of abusing his authority to deny lawmakers their right to speak during his panel meetings.

Ultimately, the coalition-controlled Ethics Committee determined that Rothman’s conduct did not warrant censure, though it did present him with guidelines to better manage hearings in the future.

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