In the wake of numerous complaints against MK Oren Hazan’s conduct, the Knesset Ethics Committee on Tuesday decided to remove him from the plenum for six months. MK Michal Biran (Zionist Camp), who exchanged insults with Hazan, and MK Stav Shafir (Zionist Camp), as well as MK Mossi Raz (Meretz), were removed for one week each.
Six months away from the plenum is the heaviest punishment the ethics committee is authorized to hand an unruly MK. This means that Hazan, a member of the Likud faction, will return to the house only in October. The only MK in recent memory who was expelled for six months is one of Hazan’s most vociferous nemesis, Joint Arab List MK Hanin Zoabi.
Indeed, one of the complaints that have led to his current suspension had to do with an ugly brawl between himself and Zoabi in the plenum. The other complaints against Hazan included his nasty exchange with MK Biran, and his loud and demeaning (albeit not baseless) screaming fit at MK Jamal Zahalka (Joint Arab List) in the Knesset corridor, over his faction’s walkout during Vice President Mike Pence’s speech in the plenum.
The confrontation between Hazan and Biran erupted last November, after Hazan had told MK Rachel Azaria (Kulanu) during a Knesset finance committee debate: “I could teach you a few things.”
In response, Biran called out at him: “She will manage without the skills of running a casino in Burgas,” to which Hazan, who had managed a casino in the Bulgarian resort, replied, “I wouldn’t have hired you as a card dealer.”
Biran responded with a nasty retort: “Pimp, your presence shames the Knesset.”
Hazan answered: “Do you want to fill out a work form? – Never mind, who’s going to want to even look at you?”
Following the above exchange, Hazan filed a complaint against Biran for calling him “a pimp,” “a disgrace to the Knesset,” and a “violent chauvinist.” Biran filed a complaint for verbal sexual harassment. Hazan argued that her complaint was slanderous, his initial comment to MK Azaria was not chauvinistic. Biran said that she could no longer ignore Hazan’s conduct and that it was her public duty to use the lines she had done against Hazan.
The committee determined that Biran violated the ethics rules, and after she told the committee that she would continue to call Hazan a pimp, she was suspended for one week, although she will be allowed to vote.
The incident between MKs Hazan and Zahalka took place after the Joint Arab List was removed from the plenum after interrupting Vice President Mike Pence’s speech last week.
During the battle of shouts in the corridor, Hazan called out: “We’ll get you out of here, shoo, you and [Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud)], who protects you – terrorist! – wipe your smile,” and a plethora of additional catcalls directed at Zahalka, who responded with a superior smile and walked off.
MK Shafir was also removed from the plenum and committee debates, for calling MK Mickey Zohar (Likud) “corrupt.” He complained that letting such an insult remain unpunished would tarnish his reputation.