Controversial MP Tawfiq Okasha has been dismissed from his post by a majority vote in parliament on Wednesday afternoon, after the outspoken TV anchor invited the Israeli ambassador to his home on February 24 for a political discussion.
In light of Wednesday’s parliamentary vote against Okasha, the TV anchor has also moved to shut down his privately owned satellite channel, Al-Faraeen.
The channel’s administration posted the following announcement on Wednesday: “Al-Faraeen Channel extends is gratitude to the great Egyptian people, and to all its viewers in the Arab World. It announces the permanent conclusion of its broadcasts, as its administrative board has decided to liquidate its work, freeze its operations, and offer the channel for sale. It extends its sincerest gratitude to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.”
It is reported that a majority – amounting to over 400 MPs from a total parliamentary membership of 596 – voted to strip Okasha of his status as a legislator. According to parliamentary regulations, a quorum of MPs is required to strip a parliamentarian of their post, followed by a two-thirds majority vote.
Wednesday’s vote comes immediately after Okasha’s referral to a parliamentary disciplinary board hearing, which had ruled to suspend him for a period of one term, due to end in July. However, parliamentarians moved for more stringent action against him.
Beyond parliament’s indignation at his meeting with the Israeli ambassador, it is argued that there were several other factors at play in the decision to expel Okasha, including confrontations with other MPs, open criticism of governmental bodies and security apparatuses, along with his personal clashes with parliamentary speaker Ali Abdel Aal.
Okasha was kicked out of the parliamentary deliberations during Wednesday’s session. Several local news outlets reported Okasha as calling on fellow MPs to “have mercy, this situation is unbearable. Intercede on my behalf before the speaker, I should not be removed, this is unjust and inappropriate.”
After being prevented from attending Wednesday’s session, photos reveal Okasha watched the legislature’s deliberations and votes on a TV screen from a hall in the parliament building.
“Tawfiq Okasha’s actions are in violation of parliamentary norms. The Israeli ambassador met him as he is a member of parliament. Therefore he must be stripped of his membership,” MP Ashraf al-Araby told Mada Masr.
Over the past week, Okasha has been confronted with a great outpouring of anger from civil society and local media outlets for meeting with the Israeli ambassador, in a move perceived to be an attempt to further normalize relations with Israel. Privately owned Youm7 news portal, among several other news outlets, has been referring to Okasha as the “normalization parliamentarian” over the past few days.