Knesset advances bill to make it easier to punish those flying terror flags

Carrie Keller-Lynn is a former political and legal correspondent for The Times of Israel

Palestinian Hamas supporters chant slogans and flash gestures with flags of the terror group outside the Dome of the Rock shrine at the Temple Mount compound in the Old City of Jerusalem during Ramadan on April 7, 2023. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)
Palestinian Hamas supporters chant slogans and flash gestures with flags of the terror group outside the Dome of the Rock shrine at the Temple Mount compound in the Old City of Jerusalem during Ramadan on April 7, 2023. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

The Knesset advances a bill to end the attorney general’s oversight over fines for publicly supporting terror organizing and waving their flags.

Current Israeli law enables up to three years of imprisonment and fines for waving terror organization flags or displaying their symbols, but backers of the new bill say that violations are underenforced due to the requirement that the attorney general needs to sign off on indictments.

Rather than seeking an indictment, the bill seeks to carve out a parallel track to enable NIS 10,000 administrative fines to be levied on violators, without attorney general involvement.

The bill is part of a series of right-wing initiatives to punish “incitement,” including the national security minister’s January attempt to ban Palestinian flags in public places.

However, the Palestinian Authority and its flag are not covered by the bill. To be covered, the Defense Ministry must designate a group as a terror organization. The Palestinian flag has been officially recognized by Israel as the banner of the Palestinian Authority since the signing of the Oslo peace accords.

The measure comes at a sensitive time, as violence heats up with Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza.

Sponsored by far-right Religious Zionism MK Zvi Sukkot, a former settler leader with a rap sheet for organizing violence against Palestinians, the bill clears its preliminary reading 50-28.

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