Likud Knesset member Oren Hazan became the latest legislator Sunday to join a chorus of condemnation of coalition chairman David Bitan (Likud), after the latter said he planned to propose a bill banning Israeli citizens from criticizing Israel at international forums, and stripping citizenship from those that do.
“I will not support this non-democratic law,” Hazan wrote on Twitter. “I am a Knesset member from the Likud, not North Korea!”
Bitan’s proposed law came after B’Tselem Director Hagai El-Ad earlier this month appeared before the UN Security Council and called for action against Israel over West Bank settlements. In response, Bitan initially called to strip El-Ad of his Israeli citizenship. After being advised that there was no legal basis for such action, Bitan said he would initiate a bill that would revoke the citizenship of Israelis who pursue sanctions against the Jewish state at international bodies capable of imposing them.
Bitan has since been criticized by legislators from the left and right.
Likud MK Yehuda Glick tweeted on Saturday: “Stripping the citizenship from B’Tselem’s director? Why don’t we just hang him in the city square? Far simpler and more efficient! Hello? Have we gone mad? Calm down friends! There are limits.”
שלילת אזרחות למנכל בצלם?
למה לא פשוט עונש מוות בתליה במרכז העיר יותר פשוט יותר יעיל!
הלו השתגענו? להירגע חברים !
— yehudah glick (@YehudahGlick) October 22, 2016
Jewish Home MK Bezalel Smotrich also expressed his opposition, tweeting that, “There will be no revocation of citizenship for Hagai El-Ad!” Smotrich wrote that El-Ad “crossed a red line, even for a democracy, but there’s serious distance between that and revoking citizenship. Balance is the key.”
Bitan’s proposal was also met with scorn on the left, with several lawmakers warning that such proposals could do more to isolate Israel than any speech by a watchdog group.
Tzipi Livni of the Zionist Union said that “”Even if they don’t evolve into legislation, such toxic talk and ideas are destructive to Israel from within and without…the damage these initiatives cause to Israel’s image abroad is worse than any caused by [B’Tselem].”
Opposition head Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union) vowed to “fiercely” battle such a bill if it were ever brought before the Knesset.
MK Stav Shaffir (Zionist Union) said the government was “causing unprecedented international damage to the country, and could yet bring about the sanctioning of Israel.” She added that by floating such propositions, members of the government “in their great ignorance and short-sightedness give weapons to Israel’s enemies.”
El-Ad sparked fury in Israel when he spoke at the UN Security Council on October 14 and denounced the “invisible, bureaucratic daily violence” that dominates Palestinian life “from cradle to grave,” including Israeli control over entrance and exit from the territories, and farming rights.
The NGO director’s remarks drew fierce denunciations from Israeli politicians, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who vowed he would bar national service volunteers from working with the left-wing human rights organization.