Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, awarded itself a draconian new power last week: A three-quarters majority of its members can now expel an elected politician if they do not like his or her views.
According to Adalah, a law centre representing the fifth of Israel’s population who are Palestinian citizens, the so-called expulsion law has no parallel in any democratic state. The group noted that it was the latest in a series of laws designed to strictly circumscribe the rights of Israel’s Palestinian minority and curb dissent.
Others fear that the measure is designed to empty the Knesset of its Palestinian parties.
“This law violates all rules of democracy and the principle that minorities should be represented,” Mohammed Zeidan, director of the Human Rights Association in Nazareth, told Al Jazeera. “It sends a message to the public that it is possible, even desirable, to have a Jewish-only Knesset.”
The four Palestinian parties in the parliament, in a coalition called the Joint List, issued an open letter on Friday warning that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government “want a Knesset without Arabs”.
Zeidan noted how quickly that could happen: “It would only require one Palestinian legislator to be expelled and there would be enormous pressure on the others to resign their seats in protest.”
Yousef Jabareen, a Palestinian Knesset member (MK) for the Joint List, said the law created “MKs on probation”, intimidating them into silence or “good behavior”. Its effect, he added, would be to strip tens of thousands of voters of the right to representation.