Rivlin: Democracy first
Photo: Ata Awisat
Azmi Bishara
Photo: AFP

MK Rivlin: Don't revoke Bishara’s pension funds

Right-wing party representative surprisingly opposes revoking former Balad chairman's Knesset allowance, saying such an act would harm country’s democratic foundations

Former Balad Chairman Azmi Bishara received unexpected support in the Knesset on Tuesday, as Knesset Member Reuven Rivlin (Likud) referred to the opinion letter presented by the Knesset's legal advisor, Nurit Elstien, on the revocation of Bishara’s monthly pension fund.


Speaking at the Knesset’s House Committee, Rivlin said, “If we revoke his rights due to suspicions, this will harm the foundations of democracy in the deeper sense of the word. The legal adviser was right regarding the importance of democracy.”


On Monday, Ynet revealed that Attorney Elstein sharply criticized the bill requesting to revoke the monthly pension funds paid to Bishara, who was interrogated a few time for allegedly assisting Hizbullah.


She wrote that coming to conclusions, “solely based on the “alleged” crimes of an MK in order to repeal his salary or his pension funds, constitutes an actual punishment without brining the “guilty party” to justice at all.”


MK Avshalom Vilan (Meretz-Yahad) said in response to Rivlin’s comments that “this it is not by chance that a person from the Herut (former right-wing party) has exactly the same view on immunity. I am no less afraid of the country’s security than you are, and maybe more, but there is no connection between the bill and national security.


“If it was important to bring him to Israel, they would have brought him. In the last few months a line of laws were passed which are a disgrace to Israel’s legislature.


“You are choosing the easy way out by changing the legislation while harming rights when 20% of Israel’s citizens won’t play the democratic game.”


‘Phone line in Damascus at Knesset’s expense’

On theother side, MK Moshe Sharoni (Social Justice for Pensioners) called to revoke the allowance from the former MK. Sharoni said, “I am not a bleeding heart but what they call democracy is anarchy. What is happening here would not occur in a developed country.


“It’s unbelievable that an elected representative is under suspicion and does not return to Israel in order to prove his innocence and that the Israeli government and nation need to pay him, excuse me people, what’s happening to us…”


MK Yitzhak Levy (National Union-National Religious) added, “The propaganda Bishara is conducting is worse than missiles and he is working against Israel. It is like firing missile on the State of Israel.


“If he would have escaped to Syria in fear of his sentence and would be in hiding, we may not have discussed this, but this guy is operating against the country and for this reason we need to stop his pension funds immediately.”


“Yesterday I understood from the Knesset’s legal adviser that if the law passes, she will defend him anyway at the High Court of Justice. Her job is to show us that there are problems, but in the end she will defend the Knesset,” said Levy.


One of the bill’s initiators, MK David Rotem (Yisrael Beiteinu) said during the discussion, “According to this opinion letter, we will need to install a telephone line in Damascus at the Knesset’s expense.”


Elstein also participated in the discussion and said, “I don’t know what former MK Bishara is suspected of, and I don’t think anyone knows. The adviser does not write what the offense is. I didn’t think that a newspaper publication is adequate evidence.”


פרסום ראשון: 07.22.08, 13:22
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