One of the typical symptoms of election fever is a life-threatening outbreak of populist legislation. The epidemic does not distinguish between radical right and center-right, and does not spare politicians hiding behind the label of center-left. Unfortunately for those elected officials, the media is busy these days with public corruption scandals and the governing coalition crisis over the military draft law for ultra-Orthodox Jews. They have sidelined the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and its implications, such as the instability of the Palestinian Authority (PA), Israel’s only potential partner for peace. Nonetheless, Knesset members are energetically promoting a series of proposed bills that could indicate the agenda of the coming election campaign. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may avoid starring in television and radio campaign advertising spots in light of his many ongoing criminal investigations, but his hallmark slogan and the title of the book he published in 1995 — “Fighting Terrorism” — will continue to take center stage.
On March 5, the Knesset gave overwhelming initial approval to proposed legislation allowing Israel to deduct money from various taxes it collects for the PA to punish it for “supporting terrorism.” Fifty-two lawmakers voted for the bill, which openly violates a 1994 interim agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. Only 10 refused to greenlight this distortion of the Paris Protocol, the interim agreement regulating economic ties between Israel and the PA under which Israel commits to collect taxes for the Palestinians, such as customs import duties and income tax deducted from the pay of Palestinians working in Israel, and transfer these revenues to the PA.