MAAN NEWS AGENCY
Israeli lawmakers approve jail terms for 'Jewish state' denial
Date: 27 / 05 / 2009 Time: 15:53
Bethlehem – Ma’an/Agencies – Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, gave preliminary approval to a bill that would mandate year jail term for anyone who speaks against Israel’s status as a Jewish state on Wednesday morning.
The bill, which still needs final approval before coming law, passed after a heated debate with a vote of 47 to 34 and one abstention. The measure was originally introduced by Zevulun Orlev, a member of a right-wing religious nationalist party, Habayit Hayehudi (Jewish Home).
The bill’s passage comes three days after lawmakers advanced a bill that would ban all commemorations of Nakba Day, on which Palestinians, including those who are Israeli citizens, remember their expulsion of 1948.
According to news reports, a Palestinian member of the Knesset, Jamal Zahalka, was removed from the auditorium during an argument after the vote.
During the debate preceding the vote, Chaim Oron, the chair of the left-wing Zionist party Meretz, decried the bill, according to the Ynet news agency: “Have you lost your confidence in the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state? This crazy government – what exactly are you doing? Thought Police? Have you lost it?”
Jamal Zahalka said, also according to Ynet’s report, “Many intellectuals in the academia who talk about a country belonging to all its citizens belong in prison, according to MK Orlev. Arab and Jewish leaders who seek real democracy in Israel also belong in jail, according to Orlev… He wants to put anyone who doesn’t agree with him in jail.”