Addressing the Ethics Committee’s decision to suspend him from plenum and committee deliberations for a period of six months, MK Oren Hazan (Likud) said on Wednesday that “twenty minutes after I asked [MK Yuli Edelstein (Likud)] the Speaker of the Knesset to apologize for his comments, I get a phone call from the Ethics Committee, a group of radical leftists.”
Hazan was referring to recordings that have been leaked to the media this week in which Speaker Edelstein is heard criticizing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
On Tuesday, MK Hazan posted on his Facebook page: “Instead of apologizing – Yuli takes revenges! Instead of eliminating terror supporters from the Knesset, Edelstein tries to silence those who expose the embarrassing scandal, fight against the enemies of the state and silence them.”
During the plenary session in question—the last Hazan was allowed to attend before his suspension took effect—the belligerent MK said from the podium: “I turned today to Stalin, sorry, to Knesset Speaker Edelstein, and asked him to apologize to the prime minister for those embarrassing recordings.”
MK Hazan’s use of the name “Stalin” caused an uproar, with MKs Hilik Bar (Zionist Camp) and Bezalel Smotrich (Habayit Hayehudi) encouraging Knesset members to leave the plenum during Hazan’s remarks in protest against the use of that name when referring to the Knesset Speaker.
Yuli Edelstein, who was born in Chernivtsi in the Soviet Union (now Ukraine), in 1984 was arrested on fabricated charges and sentenced to three years hard labor in the Siberian gulags, first in Buryatia and later in Novosibirsk, where he broke several bones after falling from a construction tower. Edelstein was released in May 1987, and was next to the last refusenik to be freed.
Deputy Knesset Speaker MK Revital Swid (Zionist Camp), who chaired the meeting, asked MK Hazan to apologize to Edelstein, but he refused. She said, “I want to apologize on behalf of all of us for the fact that the Knesset Speaker, a former Prisoner of Zion, was called such a name. He was expelled from the university and imprisoned because he refused to call Stalin a hero.”
MK Rachel Azaria (Kulanu), a member of the Ethics Committee, called MK Hazan’s comment “intolerable,” adding “we have repeatedly warned MK Hazan and asked him to change his ways, and he has repeatedly refused.”
So Hazan, in his own way, is also a refusenik…
MK Bar said, “A red line has been crossed when a Knesset member compares the chairman of the Israeli parliament to the mass murderer and despot Stalin.”
The decision to suspend MK Hazan came after five complaints had been submitted against him by MKs from various parliamentary factions. His salary will be docked for a week.
Hazan will be permitted to vote, but he will not be allowed to speak or submit bills, parliamentary inquires, or agenda motions.