Israel parliament passes controversial law broadening impeachment powers

Israel parliament passes controversial law broadening impeachment powers

The Israeli Knesset [official website] voted 62-45 on Wednesday to enable it to impeach legislators [press release] for inciting racism or supporting armed struggle against the state. Impeachment under the new law would reach the full Knesset after referral from a parliamentary committee, and require the approval of 90 of the Knesset’s 120 lawmakers. The decision to launch impeachment proceedings would itself require 70 votes, including at least 10 from opposition MKs. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu [official website] said that the new law was necessary to prevent supporters of terrorism [Times of Israel report] against the state to serve in its parliament. Critics have attacked [Haaretz report] the bill as mainly targeting Arab legislators. According to Debbie Gilad-Hayo of the Association of Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) [official website], the new law is a “slippery slope” [press release] that “provides members of Knesset with the power to dismiss serving MKs for political reasons.” The practical effect of the law has been questioned [Reuters report] by those who see the 90-vote threshold as a potentially limiting factor.

A number of controversial Israeli laws in the recent past have prompted criticism from the UN and the international community. Last week, Israel lawmakers enacted a law [JURIST report] increasing regulation on Israeli human rights organizations. The law requires organizations receiving more than 50 percent of their funding from foreign governments or political organizations to disclose their reliance on such funding in “all communication with public officials and on television, newspapers, billboards and online.” Last month, the UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] cautioned Israel [JURIST report] that their response to a deadly Tel Aviv attack may be violating international law by implementing prohibitive collective punishment. In January, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territories Makarim Wibisono resigned [JURIST report] from his position in January, saying that Israel has not granted him access to the Occupied Palestinian Territory after repeated requests.