Israel News for July 20, 2016

Mayor Won’t March
In an interview with Yediot Ahronot, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said the he would not march in the gay pride parade in the city on Thursday. He said, “I won’t march because I don’t want to be part of the harm to the ultra-Orthodox public and the Religious-Zionist public. The gay-lesbian community receives services in the city of Jerusalem to its satisfaction. Of course, it’s their right to march. The Jerusalem Municipality, I, and the police are doing everything that we can to facilitate them to realize their right, but they need to know that this hurts others.”

Meanwhile, the mother and five brothers of Yishai Schlissel, the man who murdered one marcher and injured five others at last year’s parade, were brought in for questioning by police and given restraining orders from entering Jerusalem until after the parade.

The Jerusalem Municipality ordered the removal of gay pride flags from the streets adjacent to the Great Synagogue and Hechal Shlomo, the seat of the Chief Rabbinate. The removal was done at the request of Jerusalem Chief Rabbi Aryeh Stern who wrote, “I have a modest request. Without getting into the controversy surrounding the ‘Parade,’ it would be appropriate to remove the flags from the street next to the Jeshurun Synagogue and Hechal Shlomo. I am certain that this gesture would lower the tension and show consideration for the holiness of Jerusalem.”

To read more of the interview with Mayor Barkat, click here.

Expulsion Law
The Knesset passed a law last night allowing a two-thirds majority to expel a sitting member of parliament who was found to be inciting to racism or supporting an armed struggle against the State of Israel. The law will allow the expulsion of an MK only with the support of 90 out of the 120 members of Knesset, at least ten of which have to be from the opposition.

The old law prohibited a person from running for the Knesset if his acts or objectives serve to reject the right of the State of Israel to exist as a Jewish and democratic state; incite to racism; support an armed struggle and more. But if such acts are carried out by someone already elected to Knesset—they cannot be removed from the legislature until the next elections, when they could be disqualified. The new law changes that.

Arab Knesset members along with members of the Zionist Union and Meretz opposed the bill, which passed by a vote of 62 – 47, calling it undemocratic and anti-Arab.

In order to get the required 90 votes to implement an expulsion, a significant portion of the opposition will have to be in favor of the move.

The new legislation will not apply to acts done before it came into effect, so the Knesset will not be able to expel MK Hanin Zoabi for her past virulent comments against IDF soldiers or for her participation in the Marmara flotilla. But maybe next time.

For further reading click here.

Jordan Fence
Israel will build a separation barrier along the northern part of the Jordanian border in the Golan. The barrier, which will extend the existing barrier that runs from Mount Hermon in the north to Hamat Gader along the Syrian border, will cost around $7 million and extend for several kilometers. Another fence is being constructed along the southern part of the Jordanian border, near the site of the international airport under construction in Timna (north of Eilat).

A fence built along the Israeli-Egypt border in 2010 has dramatically stemmed the flow of asylum seekers crossing into Israel from over 10,000 a year to just a few hundred or a even few dozen a year.

For further reading click here.