Pursuant to the unauthorized visit of three Knesset members from the National Democratic Assembly to Syria, Interior Minister Ronnie Bar-On appealed Sunday to Attorney General Menachem Mazuz to apply Israeli law in order to prevent the Arab MKs from leaving the country.
The attorney general decided earlier Sunday to open an investigation against MKs Azmi Bishara, Jamal Zahalka and Wasil Taha because of their visit to Syria. The three are charged with visiting an enemy country without authorization.
Bar-On also appealed to Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and demanded that the three MKs have their diplomatic passports revoked. "As you know, diplomatic passports are granted to MKs in order for them to fulfill their duty, and they are a privilege," he said.
"These MKs misused this privilege and utilized it to hurt important Israeli interests and even national security. I ask that you immediately invalidate the passports and not renew them in the future," he continued.
Taking legal action
In his letter to the attorney general, Bar-On emphasized that "in 2002, legislation regarding national emergency regulations was passed, which cancelled the exemption of diplomatic passport holders from such laws, such that the emergency regulations apply to the MKs in question."
"As such, I am considering acting in accordance with my jurisdiction as Interior Minister – based on clause 6(3) of the passport law from 1952 – allowing the Interior Minister to revoke an Israeli passport, even if it has not expired. Also, clause 6 of the emergency regulations allows us to restrict people from leaving Israel."
Bar-On emphasized that the MKs' trip to Syria, and their public declarations there, "tramples grossly on Israeli law. The severity increases when we consider that this is not the first phenomenon of its kind, and that it was clear to the three MKs that what they were doing constituted a flagrant violation of the law."
"Furthermore, the visit to Syria comes on the heels of a conflict with Hizbullah, which is funded by Syria, and thus constitutes significant support for a hostile country, as well as harm to national security," he added.