Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to push ahead with a bill which would suspend lawmakers from the parliament (Knesset) for what is described as “unseemly behavior.”
Netanyahu said on Sunday that he would submit the legislation after consultations with coalition parties, in a move that appears to be a reaction to a recent visit by three Arab Israeli lawmakers to the families of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces.
The bill would target lawmakers accused of “unseemly behavior,” Netanyahu said, without providing further explanation about the parameters of such behavior, and how long the suspension would last.
Reports emerged on Thursday that three lawmakers, identified as Hanin Zoabi, Jamal Zahalka and Basel Ghattas, had met with relatives of Palestinians killed by Israelis over alleged attacks in an attempt to help them retrieve the bodies of their beloved for burial.
On Sunday, the Israeli premier accused the three lawmakers from the Balad party of “building walls of hatred” and announced plans for promoting a law that would disqualify lawmakers who follow suit.
In a statement, Ayman Odeh, the head of the Joint List alliance in the Israeli Knesset, condemned the bill and defended the three lawmakers, saying, “The prime minister continues with his methods of deceit and incitement.”
“According to Netanyahu, he should rule like a caesar, and the Knesset should be run by the tyranny of the majority,” he added.
The Balad party has also accused Netanyahu of trying to make political gains out of the visit.
“After [Netanyahu] understood that there was no criminal wrongdoing in the contacts the MKs had, he is trying to capitalize politically to advance legislation that will harm the political representation of the Arab minority,” the party said in a statement.
Israel refrains from returning the bodies of those killed in clashes with its forces in order to prevent mass protests that usually follow funerals.
The development comes as the occupied Palestinian territories have been the scene of heightened tensions. The latest wave of tensions was triggered by Israel’s imposition in August 2015 of restrictions on the entry of Palestinian worshipers into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East al-Quds (Jerusalem).
More than 170 Palestinians have lost their lives at the hands of Israeli forces since the beginning of last October.
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