The Israeli Knesset approved the suspension of lawmakers accused of backing ‘terrorism’, a bill which seems to target Arab MPs, while PM Netanyahu has ordered Palestinian bodies held by the military not to be returned.Fifty-nine lawmakers voted for the bill, widely seen to be targeting the Arab-led bloc after three of its members met the families of accused Palestinian attackers.
The bloc accounts for 13 of Knesset’s 120 members, making it the chamber’s third-largest grouping.
The bill would give parliament the power to strip any lawmaker of the right to vote on draft legislation. It needs to pass a second and third reading in the Knesset before becoming a law.
Zouheir Bahloul, an Arab legislator, accused Netanyahuâs right-wing coalition of âquietly stealing Arab membersâ right to a democratic discourse.â
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel also warned the law ‘is being promoted to harm the Arab MKs (Knesset members), whose statements and actions do not find favor with the political majority.â
The Israeli chamber already has the power to censure the lawmakers for what it deems âunseeingly behavior.â
The idea for the bill, according to Press TV/Al Ray, was originally suggested by Netanyahu after Arab lawmakers from the Balad Party met with the families of the Palestinians killed by Israeli forces.
In February, the three were suspended from speaking in the Israeli parliament, as punishment, after they voiced support for the families of the Palestinian victims killed by Israeli military forces.
âStop returning Palestinian bodiesâ
On Monday, Netanyahu ordered a halt to returning the bodies of the Palestinians killed by Israeli forces as the regime fears subsequent mass funerals could trigger more protests.
Netanyahu ordered Moshe Yaâalon, Israeli minister for military affairs, not to hand over Palestinian bodies to their families until a comprehensive policy decision is reached on the matter, local media reported.
The Israeli military is currently holding an unspecified number of bodies belonging to the Palestinians shot dead for allegedly trying to stab regime forces.
Yaâalonâs ministry had resumed returning the corpses to their families on the condition that they were buried overnight and in a low-key funeral.
However, several Israeli officials, including Netanyahu, have voiced support for withholding the bodies to avoid mass funerals that could turn into large anti-occupation demonstrations.
Israelâs refusal to return the dead has drawn an angry reaction from several Palestinian officials and human rights organizations.
Earlier this month, Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Secretary General Saeb Erekat called on the international community to pressure Israel into releasing the bodies.
Tel Avivâs âcollective punishments are now being carried out against the living and the dead,â Erekat said.
Palestinian rights groups Addameer and Adalah condemned Israelâs refusal to return the Palestinian bodies as âa severe violation of international humanitarian law.â
So far, more than 200 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces since the outbreak of fresh tensions in the occupied territories last October.