The Knesset Ethics Committee has ruled that the participation of MK Said Nafaa (Balad) in a February rally in support of the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad cannot be deemed improper. The rally, which featured Syrian flags and portraits of Assad, took place at the Al-Midan theater in Haifa.
The committee members ruled that Nafaa's participation was a legitimate expression of opinion that is protected by freedom of speech. They discussed the issue after a complaint was filed by a lawyer for the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel, a group that got its start supporting settlers evacuated from the Gaza Strip.
The lawyer, Hila Cohen, claimed Nafaa's conduct violated the Knesset's ethics rules.
In explaining of her complaint, Cohen said: "Participation in a gathering whose entire purpose is supporting a dictator suspected of serious crimes against humanity and of carrying out mass slaughter of innocent people on a daily basis to secure his regime, does not reflect loyalty to the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state." She added that such an act was also a violation of Naffa's obligation to maintain the dignity of the Knesset.
Committee chairman Yitzhak Vaknin (Shas ) said Nafaa's participation in a political gathering "even if its messages are not pleasing to the ear, to put it mildly" fall within the freedom of action and freedom of expression that Knesset members have.
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