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Knesset votes against ousting Cassif for support of ICJ ‘genocide’ trial

Eighty-five MKs voted to oust Cassif, below the 90 needed in the 120-member legislature.

MK Ofer Cassif speaks during a press conference at the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, Jan. 30, 2024. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90.
MK Ofer Cassif speaks during a press conference at the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, Jan. 30, 2024. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90.

The Knesset on Monday voted against removing lawmaker Ofer Cassif over his public support for the charges of genocide that South Africa lodged against Israel in the International Court of Justice.

Eighty-five MKs voted to oust Cassif, below the 90 needed in the 120-member legislature.

Opposition leader Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid Party and War Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz’s National Unity Party did not back the initiative.

Last month, lawmaker Oded Forer (Yisrael Beitenu) began the process to impeach Cassif, the lone Jewish member of the majority-Arab Hadash-Ta’al Party, from parliament. The move was announced after Cassif signed a petition in support of the South African case against the Jewish state and claimed that members of the government were calling for ethnic cleansing and even genocide.

“MK Cassif’s treasonous words can no longer be heard while the blood of our soldiers and citizens screams from the ground,” Forer said at the time.

Eighty-five MKs subsequently signed on to the initiative, passing the 70-vote threshold for referral to Knesset House Committee. Once approved there, it went to the plenum for a vote in accordance with a little-known law allowing lawmakers to remove a colleague who expresses “support for an armed struggle by an enemy state, or a terrorist organization against the State of Israel.”

The process to impeach Cassif in this manner was unprecedented in Israeli history.

Three months ago, Cassif was suspended from the Knesset for 45 days for anti-Israel comments he made in the wake of Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre.

The Knesset Ethics Committee based its decision on remarks Cassif made that drew a connection between the Holocaust and “current government policy in times of war.”

It referred to a statement by Cassif in an Oct. 15 interview with Irish journalist Finian Cunningham, in which he accused the government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of exploiting the murderous Hamas attacks to implement a “final solution” to wipe out Palestinian Arabs.

The “final solution” typically refers to Germany’s effort to annihilate world Jewry during the Holocaust.

Cassif caused a firestorm in November 2022 by declaring that Aryeh Shchupak, 16, was a “victim of the occupation” after he was murdered in the terrorist bombings in Jerusalem.

Earlier that month, Cassif asserted that Jews living in Judea and Samaria were liable for Palestinian attacks against them as they are not innocent civilians. “They live as a thorn in the throats of the Palestinians,” he said, adding that Palestinian attacks were “not terror.”

In 2021, in a Facebook post marking Palestinian Prisoners Day, Cassif referred to Palestinian security prisoners in Israeli jails as “political prisoners.” He also shared an image of a prison cell with the caption: “May all the captives be released!”

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