The basic duty of every state is to guarantee its security and protect its citizens, and the loyalty of citizens to their state constitutes an essential pillar in maintaining a mechanism that would safeguard our
home. Therefore, no country in the world allows its citizens to travel to enemy states without a permit; moreover, no country allows those who act in a way that raises reasonable suspicion of undermining national security to be elected to parliament.
Israel, a state that is still fighting for its existence and liberty and which has a unique and complex character because of hostility abroad and at home, must undertake acts that safeguard it against the dangers. At the same time, we must be considerate of the fact that a Muslim minority lives in our country, and for humanitarian reasons allow members of this minority to travel to states where their relatives reside. Indeed, Israel approves thousands such requests.
However, those who blatantly refrain from seeking a permit or those who were refused yet still traveled to an enemy state are acting in a provocative manner vis-à-vis the state, show contempt to it, and encourage rejection of the obligatory rules of conduct. Even if the motive is merely scoring some media points, and even if the intention is merely to display “leadership,” this harms Israel. Such person poses danger to the state, and certainly does not deserve to serve in parliament.
In the past, we already saw flawed statements and conduct by our elected officials. For example, Knesset Member Wasil Taha claimed in July 2007 that the abduction of Gilad Shalit is not a terror act, and suggested that the Palestinians adopt the “military way” in their struggle against the State of Israel. He also said that “Israel is delusional if it thinks it can defeat Hizbullah…we should bring victory to our people under siege.”
In January 2007, MK Ahmad Tibi said: “I call on Fatah and Hamas – unite, unite, unite. National unity is the guarantee for the struggle against the occupation and the manner through which you will thwart the occupation’s schemes. Remember, the homeland has not yet been liberated.”
Those were not declarations made by members of the Syrian or Iranian regime, but rather, by elected officials serving in the Israeli Knesset, while being present at conventions and rallies that among other things called for the elimination of Israel. Yet we remained silent, and our silence is our weakness. Our silence empowers our enemies. Therefore, the time has come to restore some sanity and stop this process.
An elected official who travels to an enemy state under the guise of political activity is in fact deceiving Israeli authorities. Such an official cannot decide on his own to serve as a state representative. Such trip,
meant to promote security interests or foreign relations, can only be made with the prime minister’s approval. These types of visits constitute a provocation against the state, and serve to encourage the armed struggle and terror acts against it.
We should not naively believe that those elected officials, who took part in rallies calling for Israel’s destruction and hugged with our greatest enemies, only traveled abroad in order to eat hummus or pick strawberries. The new legislation can our boost national strength and restore some of our dignity as a people.
Knesset Member Estrina Tartman (Yisrael Beiteinu) is one of the initiators of the new bill