New, stricter government-sponsored legislation against “incitement of terrorism” drafted by the Ministry of Justice passed the first of three required plenum votes by a margin of 34 to 9 on Monday, November 2, and now goes to the Knesset House Committee for debate and amendment. The anti-incitement law currently on the books prohibits publicizing explicit support for acts of terror or praising attackers for carrying them out. Such expressions will remain proscribed under the newly proposed law which will also retain the maximum sentence for incitement: five years’ imprisonment.
Knesset members from Hadash voiced opposition to the proposed extreme-right legislation. “We are presented with a useless and even dangerous new stringency,” MK Dov Khenin (Hadash – Joint List) said during Monday’s plenum debate. “Relinquishing the principle of preponderance [i.e., evidence that attacks could possibly result from the alleged incitement – Editor] is the true ploy of the bill. The simple act of speaking, even if it’s clear that it won’t lead to violence, becomes a crime. Instead of making the police and legal authorities focus on expression that poses a real threat, we’re turning all expression into criminal expression and raising the severity of punishment to an extreme,” Khenin charged.
MK Youssef Jabareen (Hadash – Joint List) lamented that “the government is eating away at the democratic principles that we have been accustomed to until now. This proposal violates the historic balance between criminal law and freedom of expression and the damage the state wishes to prevent. I am concerned about this law being used inappropriately.”