Pressure on Likud to Take Steps against MK Oren Hazan

MKs and activists pressured the Likud party and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Wednesday, June 10, to take action against MK Oren Hazan after he was accused in a Channel 2 television report of arranging prostitutes and drugs for guests at a casino he ran in Bulgaria before entering the Knesset. MK Hazan has been derided by MKs as “a pimp.”

Likud MK Oren Hazan

Likud MK Oren Hazan (Caricature by Eran Wolkowski, Haaretz)

“It is unacceptable that a person who has trafficked in women will take decisions pertaining to women’s lives, and hold representative positions,” 29 feminist activists wrote in a letter to 29 Likud MKs, including Netanyahu, and excluding only Hazan. They demanded that Hazan be immediately suspended from all of his Knesset roles until a formal inquiry into the allegations is completed. They also demanded a public denouncement of the phenomenon of “pimping in women, buying women and prostitution.”

Hadash MK Aida Touma-Sliman (Joint List), Chair of the Knesset’s Committee for Advancement of Women, said that she was shocked by the information that was published about Hazan. “A public representative must uphold moral standards,” she explained. “Prostitution is a disgraceful exploitation of one of the underprivileged elements of society,” she added, and “it is simply unacceptable that an MK who is supposed to set an example for others be involved in this.”

“Opposition” leader MK Yitzhack Herzog on Tuesday approved a vote-offsetting agreement with Likud for the under-fire Knesset member Oren Hazan. Under the agreement, Herzog’s Zionist Union will offset Hazan’s absence from Knesset votes by withholding the vote of one of its own lawmakers. The aim of the agreement is to ensure Knesset Speaker Edelstein can deal with the disgraced MK, without fear of his using his prime position as the 61st lawmaker in a narrow-majority coalition as leverage. Without the offsetting deal, Netanyahu’s government would effectively lose its majority. Herzog’s agreement to the vote offset was sharply criticized by many of his party colleagues and opposition MKs.