Bill banning those who visit enemy states from Knesset duty approved
Knesset approves bill stating those who visit enemy countries without proper permit will not be eligible for Knesset duty for seven years. Bill initiator MK Orlev: From today Arab MKs must decide – either Syrian Parliament or Israeli Parliament
The bill was initiated by MKs Zevulun Orlev (National Union-NRP) and Esterina Tartman (Yisrael Beiteinu), following the affair of MK Azmi Bishara (National Democratic Assembly). The bill was approved by a majority of 52 to 24 MKs. Among those opposed were Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz and Education Minister Yuli Tamir.
According to the amendment to the basic law, those who visited an enemy country unlawfully within the seven years prior to the final date for the submission of the list of candidates for the Knesset will be deemed "supporters of the armed struggle against the State of Israel, so long as they have not been proven otherwise." Thus, they will not be eligible for candidacy.
Orlev responded to the passing of the bill by saying, "From today the Arab MKs will have to decide – either the Syrian parliament or the Israeli parliament. The law will prevent the Trojan horses from penetrating the Knesset. We must demand unmitigated loyalty to the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state from the Arab leaders, as does any enlightened democratic country from its chosen few.
"The Bishara affair and the defiance carried out by many of the Arab MKs, such as their visits to Syria and their meetings with Hamas leaders, are not within the scope of freedom of speech, but rather a blatant encouragement of the armed struggle in Israel and the encouragement of terror against its civilians."
MK Tartman said following the bill's approval, "From now on the citizens of Israel can relax – enemies will no longer sit in the house of legislation. As in any democratic and enlightened state, those who ignore the State's security laws will know that they are denying themselves the right to be elected for office in the Knesset. This law will retrieve some of our trampled respect as a people, and give us a reason to stand tall."
Arab MK Ahmad Tibi (United Arab List-Ta'al) responded to the bill by saying, "The law forbidding people who visited enemy states from running for Knesset was not approved by a majority of least 61 Knesset members and is therefore unconstitutional and will be rejected by the High Court of Justice for violating the principle of equality."