Miller. 'Taking care of enemies'
Photo: Alex Kolomoisky
Zahalka. 'Racist law'

'Softened' Nakba law passes 1st reading

Knesset votes in favor of controversial bill proposed by Yisrael Beiteinu. 'This is how we will take care of enemy,' MK Miller says. MK Tibi: Another black day for Knesset

As riots continue in Jerusalem, Yisrael Beiteinu can put another mark in their win column for passing one of its signature legislations. After passing the civil marriage law on Monday, the "Nakba law" passed in a first reading on Tuesday that will allow the State to revoke government funding for groups that act "against the principles of the country."


The version passed on Tuesday is considered "softened" in comparison with the bill's original wording.


Following a boisterous discussion in the Knesset plenum, 15 Knesset members supported the bill, while eight voted against it.


According to the bill, the finance minister will be authorized to decrease the budget for bodies receiving government funding if they are found responsible for activities denying the existence of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, instances of racial incitement, violence or terrorism, or provide support for armed struggle or terrorism against the country.


Among the activities forbidden by the "Nakba law" are marking Independence Day and the founding of Israel with mourning ceremonies and vandalizing or physical disdain towards the flag and State symbols.


"The damage you have done in the past half a year is equivalent to you not being eligible to receive funding from now on for another 50 years," MK Ilan Ghilon (Meretz) slammed the members of Yisrael Beiteinu.


On the other side, MK Alex Miller (Yisrael Beiteinu) accused Ghilon of "defending terrorists," and said, "The law will take care Israel's enemies and will defend democracy."


Another representative of Yisrael Beiteinu, MK David Rotem, explained in a speech before the plenum that "when we are at war against a harsh enemy, we will legislate laws that will prevent him from hurting us."


The bill was met with outrage among the Arab parties. MK Jamal Zahalka (Balad) said, "This is one of the most dangerous laws discussed in the Knesset in the past decade. It is aimed at damaging freedom of expression, which is a basic constitutional right recognized throughout the world. This legislation upholds all the criteria of racism as recognized in international institutions."


Knesset Member Taleb El-Sana (United Arab List-Ta'al) said the law "proves the failure of Zionism, which needs to legislate a law in order to force the Zionist narrative and to rewrite history during which the Zionist movement committed crimes against humanity on the Palestinian people."


"The Palestinian people will continue to unify around its disaster, which is identical to the destruction of the First and Second Temples for the Jews, and will hold marches in full force until the Zionist movement recognizes its responsibility for the Nakba, until the Palestinian people realize their aspirations for liberty and independence, and until the refugees return to their towns," said El-Sana.



MK Ahmad Tibi (United Arab List-Ta'al) also expressed his dismay with the law. "This is another black day for the Knesset," he said.


Following the vote, Meretz Chairman Chaim Oron said, "Israel's government nips at democracy on a weekly basis and bombards us with laws whose entire purpose is to drastically limit the parameters of the public discourse."


פרסום ראשון: 03.16.10, 22:00
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