On Monday morning, the Knesset House Committee is slated to hear arguments in an unusual debate that will determine the political future of Communist lawmaker Ofer Cassif, from the Hadash-Ta’al parliamentary faction.
If the hearing goes badly for Cassif, he could soon face an unprecedented vote in the Knesset plenum to expel him from the legislative body, the result of his far-right MKs anger over his public support for a South African petition to the International Court of Justice accusing Israel of committing genocide in Gaza.
Four years ago, lawmakers attempted to gather the required signatures to bring similar charges against Hadash leader MK Ayman Odeh, but the effort never made it to the committee stage.
MK Ofer Cassif during a Jewish-Arab demonstration against the war in Gaza held at Haifa, January 20, 2024 (Photo: Zo Haderech)
In a letter sent last week to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrel, a group of 17 MEPs have petitioned for the EU to oppose Cassif’s expulsion from the Knesset. Cassif’s statement in which he said he felt it was his constitutional duty to support South Africa, saying, “I will not give up the struggle for our existence as a moral society. That is true patriotism, not wars of revenge and calls for destruction, not unnecessary bloodshed, and not the sacrifice of civilians and soldiers in futile wars.”
Cassif called the efforts to expel him “political persecution, pure and simple.”
“I’ve always been against racism, terrorism and armed struggle against Israel and calling for ending the war in order to save lives ” Cassif told The Times of Israel on Sunday. “So, transferring such an anti-war belief or stance into a support of armed struggle, this is really Orwellian,” he said.
“I’m committed to the well-being of Israelis, first and foremost. My activities as a member of the Knesset have always been in pursuit of what I see as the best for the Israelis,” Cassif added. “And my objection to the war is because I find it, to say the least, unjust. Unjust to Palestinians and Israelis alike. So, I stand against the government and against the policy the government pursues.”