Knesset committee approves 'Bishara Bill'
Eight MKs vote in favor of law revoking wages, pension of lawmakers who have failed to report to police or trial. Balad MK calls proposal 'political'; Shas MK: Why should we apologize for denouncing traitors? In any Arab country he would be hung the very same day
The Knesset House Committee on Tuesday approved the "Bishara Bill", which revokes the pension payments of lawmakers who have evaded an investigation or trial involving a serious offense.
The proposal will be handed over to the Knesset plenum for a second and third reading. Eight Knesset members voted in favor of the motion, while Meretz Chairman Chaim Oron opposed.
If approved, the bill will revoke different payments former Balad Chairman Azmi Bishara is entitled to from the State Treasury, including his pension rights. Bishara fled Israel in the midst of an investigation into suspicions that he transferred information to Hezbollah during the Second Lebanon War.
MK Jamal Zahalka (Balad) clashed with right-wing lawmakers during Tuesday's heated discussion.
Zahalka said the law was political and violated the separation of powers, claiming that "there are people in this committee with blood on their hands."
MK Nissim Zeev (Shas) responded by calling him a "traitor, villain and evil person." According to Zeev, "Why do we have to apologize for denouncing traitors from within? Should a person who knowingly spies and directs Hezbollah to where to murder children and where to hurt women not be judged? In which place in the Arab world would he not have been hung the very same day? How impudent can you be?"
'Contact us through al-Jazeera'
During the discussion, the MKs learned that Zahalka is in touch with Bishara, who currently serves as a commentator on the al-Jazeera network. According to Zahalka, Bishara is not interested in the proposed law.
According to Zahalka, "This law doesn't hurt Azmi Bishara, it will hurt legislation. He told me…" MK Levin teased in response, "Tell him to inform us through al-Jazeera if he is willing to waive his salary."
MK Dov Khenin (Hadash) said the bill violated the rights people have accumulated during their work years and that "this is a tough incident which has created a bad law."
MK Zeev responded, "Tough laws are created because of traitors, because of bad people."
Committee Chairman Levin presented the opinion of the attorney general's office, which states that "Bishara's status is of a person suspected of committing an offense who is failing to cooperate with Israel's legal authorities and refuses to arrive in Israel for further investigation."
Levin added, "I see him every evening preaching to the people of Israel and backing the Islamists, and we have to fund all that."
MK Hasson explained that "it was not an impulse of revenge which promoted me to initiate this bill, but rather the need to impose limits, create deterrence and protect the State from anarchy."
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