'Serious difficulties.' Elstein
Photo: Amit Shabi
Azmi Bishara
Photo: AFP

Knesset legal advisor criticizes bills calling to revoke Bishara's benefits

Nurit Elstein says bills calling to revoke pension funds of former MK suspected of aiding Hizbullah unlawful. 'We must remember that he was a lawmaker for 11 years and was never even indicted,' she says

Knesset legal advisor Nurit Elstein cast harsh criticism Monday on three bills calling to revoke some of the benefits given to former MK Azmi Bishara.


In a letter drafted by Elstein ahead of Tuesday's House Committee hearing on the matter, the legal counsel said the bill constitutes an infringement of ownership laws.


Bishara, the former chairman of the Balad party, fled Israel last year after being accused of treason and aiding and abetting the enemy - Hizbullah – during the Second Lebanon War. He was never indicted.


The House Committee is expected to discuss preparing three bills calling to revoke Bishara's benefits for their first readings. As a former legislator, Bishara is entitled to a pension, free newspapers and additional funds given to help him remain in contact with the public.


The first bill, drafted by MK David Rotem of Yisrael Beitenu, calls to revoke the pension funds of any legislator suspected of jeopardizing State security.


'Never convicted of a criminal offense'

Two additional bills, initiated by MKs Yitzhak Levy, Effie Eitam and Zvi Hendel of the National Union – NRP party, ask to strip Bishara of his monthly pension funds until he returns to Israel to face a police investigation.


In her opinion Elstein wrote, "The bills raise serious difficulties with regards to the basic principles of our judicial system and the legislation pertaining to the revoking of benefits.


"Revoking one's right to receive pension funds, particularly after the employee retires, constitutes a severe infringement of ownership rights, which, according to Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty, cannot be violated. In addition, stripping employees of their rights in an imbalanced manner, as the bill proposes, hinders equality, which is recognized as a constitutional right."


According to Elstein, MK Rotem's proposal calls for punishing Mks who have yet to be convicted, and is therefore a "deviation from the existing judicial structure".


As for the bills presented by members of the National Union-NRP party, Elstein said "we must remember that Bishara served as an MK for 11 years, was not convicted of a criminal offense and was not even indicted". 


פרסום ראשון: 07.21.08, 20:02
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