Following a heated debate Monday evening, a bill which permits the House Committee to revoke the pension payments of lawmakers who have evaded an investigation or trial involving a serious offense passed its second and third readings on the Knesset floor.
The bill was initiated by Yisrael Hasson (Kadima) and Yariv Levin (Likud) to deny payments to former MK Azmi Bishara, who fled Israel after he was suspected of relaying sensitive information to Hezbollah during the Second Lebanon War.
The Knesset passed the bill into law by a vote of 36-11.
"Hopefully we won’t need this law, but at the same time it is our duty to put and end to the situation created by Bishara and put up a warning sign saying the Israeli Knesset and the people of Israel will not allow an MK to betray the country and still take money from it," Levin said after the vote.
'Immoral law.' Knesset debate (Archive photo: AP)
MK Nissim Zeev (Shas) called Bishara an "enemy of the State of Israel, a liar and a traitor" and said "we are a suicidal democracy that doesn’t protect itself. We allow the enemies of the state to enter the Knesset."
Lawmakers from Meretz and the Arab factions were opposed to the legislation, which Mohammad Barakeh (Hadash) called "an expression of vengeance." He said the bill was fueled by the "dark urges of lowly politicians."
Meretz Chairman Chaim Oron said, "Why take away his pension? So that people will set up an international fund and give him even more money?"
After MK Hanin Zoabi (National Democratic Assembly) called the law "immoral." In response, Miri Regev said "this Knesset suffers from terrorists who sail on the Marmara." Zoabi was one of the passengers aboard the Gaza-bound Turkish ship which was raided
by Israeli commandoes on May 31. Nine Turkish nationals were killed during the takeover.
MK Regev also called Zoabi a "hypocrite" who "forgot who she is supposed to represent."
MK Talab El-Sana (United Arab List-Ta'al) called the law "sheer madness", adding "I haven’t heard a word about (Natan) Zada (the
Israeli soldier behind the deadly shooting attack in Shfaram) or Ami Popper (who killed seven Palestinian laborers in 1990). You support terrorists as long as they are Jews."