Vote to Expel Far-left Israeli Lawmaker Who Supported ICJ Genocide Charge Narrowly Fails


Eliyahu Freedman

TEL AVIV — An effort to expel a far-left Israeli lawmaker from Israel’s Knesset narrowly failed, the first time the parliament voted on a measure to expel one of its own members.

The vote on Monday to expel Ofer Cassif, the only Jewish member of the majority Arab-Israeli Hadash-Taal party, fell short of the two-thirds majority necessary for expulsion, garnering 85 of the 90 votes needed in the 120-seat Knesset.

Cassif faced expulsion after he publicly supported South Africa’s charge in the International Court of Justice that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza. Israel has roundly rejected the accusation.

“The voice against the war, the voice against the carnage of innocent civilians, the voice for the immediate release of the hostages, the voice for peace and justice will not be silenced – My voice will not be silenced!” Cassif wrote on X, formerly Twitter, following the vote. “My colleagues and I, democratic Jews and Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians, will keep our struggle alive and loud – for the end of the brutal occupation and war, and for the wellbeing and prosperity of both peoples in their independent sovereign states.

Moments after celebrating the result of the vote, Cassif remained in his seat for the next item on the Knesset’s agenda.

Cassif was previously suspended for 45 days beginning in mid-October for comparing Israel’s war effort to the Holocaust.

Eleven lawmakers voted against expulsion, and 24 absented themselves, including leading centrist politicians Yair Lapid and Benny Gantz, as well as significant portions of their respective parties, Yesh Atid and National Unity.

Leading the charge against Cassif was Oded Forer, a lawmaker from the right-wing Israel Beiteinu party, who argued that supporting South Africa’s case against Israel meant that Cassif stood on the side of Hamas.

“Ofer Cassif owes a huge thank you to Yair Lapid and Yesh Atid for avoiding expulsion by the skin of his teeth, after supporting the screwed-up struggle against the state of Israel,” Forer posted online following the vote. “I feel dismay on behalf of the soldiers of the IDF, who according to Cassif are war criminals who need to stand trial in international court. I will continue working to take out of Knesset whoever acts against the existence of the state of Israel.”

The vote marked the first time the Knesset had employed a law passed in 2016 allowing it to expel one of its members. Before Monday’s vote, a Knesset committee had approved the expulsion, and a petition in support of expelling Cassif had garnered the signatures of 70 lawmakers.

Before the vote, the Knesset’s legal adviser had suggested that Cassif’s actions likely did not meet the technical qualifications for expulsion. Had the expulsion passed Knesset, it would have likely been appealed to the Israeli Supreme Court.


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