Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Some Post-Passover Clarity...

Hey, maybe it's all the matzah and gefilt fish.

(IsraelNN.com) The Chairman of the National Religious Party, MK Zevulun Orlev, plans to submit legislation that would strip the right to run for the Knesset from one who has visited an enemy country.

Orlev said he would submit the bill immediately upon the Knesset's return from its Passover vacation.

The bill follows by ten days a Supreme Court suit claiming that the law already forbids MKs from traveling to enemy countries.

Orlev's proposed legislation comes on the backdrop of the Bishara case that is currently in the news. Arab MK Azmi Bishara, currently in Jordan, is considering resigning from the Knesset and never returning to Israel. It has been widely surmised that this relates to criminal charges that may be raised against him for having visited Syria. However, the gag order placed on the case, as well as the extreme nature of Bishara's apparent intention never to return to Israel, indicate that there is much more to the story - and possibly to the nature of his visit to Syria - than is being reported.

Just a few days ago, Bishara told a Jordanian newspaper that Hamas would be ill-advised to make any substantial concessions to Israel. He said that "Fatah's willingness to make concessions" in the framework of the Oslo Accords and at other times "just so it could remain in power under the [Israeli] occupation hurt the movement."

Bishara's parliamentary immunity was removed in 2001 after he said, at public gatherings in the Galilee and in Syria, that as a result of Israel's pullout from Lebanon in 2000, "for the first time since 1967 we have tasted victory. Hizbullah is entitled to take pride in its achievement in humiliating Israel." He was indicted for supporting a terrorist organization; he then petitioned the Supreme Court, which ruled that Bishara's pro-Hizbullah statements were made in the framework of his parliamentary duties. "We must protect MKs' ability to fulfill their duty without fear," the High Court justices ruled.

MK Orlev also plans to submit legislation that would require all MKs to swear allegiance to Israel as a "Jewish and democratic state." MK Orlev said, "I hope that the coalition, which thwarted this elementary piece of legislation six months ago, will realize its mistake this time, in light of the Bishara affair."

Last year, Orlev proposed legislation to ban MKs who support terrorism from running again for the Knesset, though they could serve until the end of their present term. A later version of a similar Orlev bill proposed to allow the Knesset to expel members who have incited racial hatred, denounced Israel's existence, or have expressed support for a terrorist organization or for violence against the State of Israel.


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