Scandal-ridden MK to be booted from Knesset plenum for 6 months

Scandal-ridden MK to be booted from Knesset plenum for 6 months

Ethics Committee set to give Oren Hazan the maximum penalty for insulting fellow lawmakers; bans two opposition MKs for a week

Likud MK Oren Hazan reacts to a speech by Joint (Arab) List MK Hanin Zoabi at the Knesset on December 27, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Likud MK Oren Hazan reacts to a speech by Joint (Arab) List MK Hanin Zoabi at the Knesset on December 27, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Firebrand Likud lawmaker Oren Hazan, who has been involved in numerous scandals since being elected to the Knesset in 2015, will be banned from the parliament’s plenum for six months — the maximum penalty a lawmaker can face, Hadashot TV news reported Tuesday.

The report came as the Knesset Ethics Committee announced penalties for other lawmakers, but said the Likud MK’s punishment would be handed down at a later date.

The Ethics Committee decided to boot Zionist Union lawmakers Stav Shaffir and Michal Biran from committee and plenary meetings for one week, after Biran called Hazan a “pimp” and Shaffir called Likud MK Miki Zohar “corrupt.”

According to Hadashot, the Knesset’s Ethics Committee will also punish Hazan for three verbal clashes with fellow lawmakers: the spat with Biran in November, a public row with Joint List MK Hanin Zoabi, and an incident with MK Jamal Zahalka following US Vice President Mike Pence’s Knesset speech last week.

MK Omer Bar-Lev (Zionist Union) and MK Michal Biran (Zionist Union) at the Ruderman Knesset Mission in Newton, outside Boston, on April 13, 2016 (Elan Kawesch/The Times of Israel)

Hazan, who entered the Knesset in the last election, has become known as the enfant terrible of Israel’s parliament.

Shortly after he went into politics, Channel 2 News reported that Hazan had hired prostitutes for his friends and taken crystal meth while managing a casino in Bulgaria in 2013. He sued journalist Amit Segal for libel but the court rejected the bulk of the lawsuit, saying the report amounted to “responsible, serious journalism and reflected the reality as it was.”

Since entering the Knesset, Hazan has been indicted for assault, publicly mocked a disabled colleague, and has been temporarily banned from the Knesset multiple times over various wrongdoings.

In the incident with Biran in November, she openly disagreed with Hazan in a heated Knesset committee debate and called him a “pimp.” In response, he suggested she work as a prostitute before quickly telling her that “nobody would even look at you.”

Both Hazan and Biran lodged complaints with the Knesset’s Ethics Committee following the fight.

Last week, Hazan confronted Zahalka and called Joint (Arab) List MKs “terrorists” for brandishing signs during Pence’s speech to the Knesset reading “Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine.”

In 2016, Hazan was involved in a heated row in the Knesset plenum after MK Zoabi called IDF soldiers “murderers” for raiding the 2010 Mavi Marmara flotilla, which tried to break the blockade on the Gaza Strip. Hazan shouted at Zoabi, calling her an accomplice to terrorism and saying, “Your friends are murderers! Go to Gaza!”

Likud MK Oren Hazan (C) hoists up the trophy he was awarded for winning the Knesset’s backgammon tournament on January 30, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

But despite the heavy punishment, not all was dim for Oren Hazan on Tuesday, as he claimed victory in a backgammon tournament organized in the Knesset. Participants in the event also included Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and about a dozen MKs, as well as staff and members of the public.

The tournament was co-organized by Arab MK Zouheir Bahloul (Zionist Union), who said he took the idea from the NGO Kulna, which has been holding Jewish-Arab backgammon tournaments in Jerusalem for the last year. “I am glad that the MKs were willing to come and participate in this important tournament despite all the tension and disagreement,” Bahloul said.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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