Approved in preliminary reading: Harsher penalties for dishonoring state flag or emblem

The Knesset plenum approved on Wednesday the preliminary reading of an amendment to Israel`s Flag, Emblem and Anthem Law which seeks to harshen the punishment for dishonoring the national flag or emblem by increasing the prison sentence to three years or imposing a fine of up to NIS 50,000. According to the bill, any citizen who is convicted of burning the Israeli flag will be sentenced to three years in prison, and will also be denied benefits such as scholarship eligibility, health services and unemployment assistance for a period of six years.

MK Nava Boker (Likud), who introduced the legislation along with a group of MKs, said it was proposed at the beginning of the current wave of terror, ”during which we are seeing demonstrations all across Israel where people are burning Israeli flags and continue with their lives as if nothing happened. This bill seeks to put an end to this absurd situation. Burning a flag is an aggressive act which has an element of incitement against the sovereign.”

MK Esawi Frej (Meretz) said: ”Will this bill reduce the number of attacks? What will you gain from it?”

Forty-one MKs voted for the bill, while 30 opposed it.