A senior Likud MK is proposing to suspend much of Israeli democracy. His bill has zero chance of passing muster, but it does show where the Israeli Right thinks the future of the conflict lies.
MK Yariv Levin (Likud), chairman of the House Parliamentary Committee, is pushing a new directive — temporary legislation — to “combat terrorism” that amounts to perhaps the most sweepingly anti-democratic legislative project in recent years, whether implemented or proposed. The directive is extraordinarily harsh even by Israeli measure, and is almost certainly unconstitutional on several levels. It is meant to apply both to the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel proper.
According to Ynet, the provisions of the bill include:
• “Terrorists,” which includes anyone throwing a Molotov cocktail, will be stripped of their citizenship or residency and expelled to the Gaza Strip.
• Stone throwers, inciters, and anyone displaying the Palestinian flag or flags of terrorist organizations will be arrested and held until trial — without bail.
• Anyone convicted of terrorism will be denied national insurance benefits and will lose their driver’s license for 10 years.
• The homes of accused terrorists’ families will be demolished within 24 hours of the terrorist act.
• Bodies of terrorists will not be delivered to their families, and will be buried secretly, without funeral rites.
• Citizenship/residency will be stripped from family members who express support for the terrorists.
• Businesses that print [sic] publications supportive of terrorism will be shut down.
• Employers summarily firing workers with a record of “security” offenses will not be liable for compensation claims.
The bill is so off the wall that it’s nearly comical. Some details have very little grounding in Israeli law (what constitutes an “inciter,” for instance?) or in 21st century realities (confiscating printing presses? go right ahead.) It also contradicts several basic laws and overrides existing criminal law, which already sets punishments for many of the listed offenses.
That is probably why Levin is proposing it not as a law in its own right, but as a “temporary directive.” Regardless, it’s highly doubtful it will make it even to a preliminary vote, much less so further down the legislative process — through committees, three more votes, and finally into the books and possible review by the High Court of Justice. In other words, this is more likely to be a spin rather than a legislative proposal: Levin is putting it out there to show how “tough on terrorism” he is, while relying on his fellow MKs to check his pace. He can then blame these fellow MKs for hampering his efforts and make them look less tough on terror in comparison.
Nevertheless, it is interesting and alarming. A few years ago, such legislative deformities would be produced by the margins of the margins of the Israeli Right — provocateurs like Michael Ben Ari, for instance, who used them mostly to stir controversy and secure some airtime. Yariv Levin, conversely, is a stalwart of the Likud, the former coalition chairman and probably a future minister. The audience he is aiming to impress isn’t radical settlers, but center-right and right-wing voters floating between the Likud and Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home party. If this is where the center-right is shifting, it doesn’t bode well for anyone.
The specific concern that the legislation pretends to address — while actually fanning it — is more alarming and interesting still, and is revealed in the bill’s frequent references to the revocation of residency and citizenship. These measures are overwhelmingly directed at citizens of Israel and residents of East Jerusalem as opposed to residents of the occupied Palestinian territories; they aim, therefore, to respond to the disquieting realization of many on the Israeli Right that getting rid of the two-state solution did not make the Israeli-Palestinian conflict go away, but rather brought it closer to home. The bill, like many other pieces of far-fetched legislation, is a weather balloon: it is one more early indicator that with the creeping demise of the Palestinian statehood project, the focal point of the struggle is beginning to spread, if not shift, inside the Green Line — with everything that implies for the “Jewish and democratic” state structure.