(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) A new bill that makes burning the Israeli flag a criminal offense punishable by a $13,000 fine or up to three years in jail passed its preliminary Knesset reading on Wednesday.
The bill, introduced as an amendment to Israel’s Flag and Emblem Law (1949), increases the penalty for desecrating the flag from the current $78 fine or up to one year in jail. The measure also gives Israeli courts judicial discretion to take other measures, such as denying an individual convicted of burning the flag certain state-funded benefits, including scholarships and health and social security benefits, for up to six years.
Member of Knesset Nava Boker (Likud), who sponsored the bill, said, “I presented this bill following the incitement and riots we have been seeing in Arab towns in Israel. The current reality is unbearable—protesters are burning Israeli flags and just go on with their lives. The current penalties, which are ridiculous, are barely enforced. It is time to impose a harsher sentence and a hefty fine to end this disgraceful phenomenon.”
Boker said she believes harsher punitive measures will be able to generate deterrence and curtail incitement.