Knesset approves bill banning convicted terrorists from running for office

The Israeli parliament approved a bill banning anyone convicted of terror from running for the Knesset for a period of 14 years.

By: World Israel News Staff

The Knesset approved a bill that bans any person convicted of terrorism or a severe security offense, or who was sentenced to at least seven years in prison, from running for the Knesset for a period of 14 years, beginning on the day he or she is released from prison.

Two thirds of the Knesset, 86 Members of Knesset (MK), voted in favor of the bill late Monday night, while only 10 voted against it.

The bill’s explanatory passage states that its purpose is to “symbolize what is wrong with acts of terror, and thus influence the social convictions of the public and its education. In this framework, a central role is reserved for the public denunciation of an individual who operates against the state and its citizens.”

MK Anat Berko, the bill’s author, stated she does “not think the Knesset is a place where people who were convicted of terror offenses should serve.”

“It may sound imaginary, but it also sounds imaginary that an MK would spy for Hezbollah or smuggle cell phones to imprisoned terrorists, but these are things that happened,” she said, referring to former MK Basel Ghattas, an Israeli-Arab lawmaker of the Arab Joint List, who began serving a two-year prison term in July after pleading guilty to charges that he had used his parliamentary immunity to help imprisoned Palestinians continue terror activities.

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Ghattas was convicted in March of giving cellphones to jailed senior terrorists belonging to Hamas and Fatah and taking written messages to them.

She also appeared to be referring to former Israeli-Arab MK Azmi Bishara, who fled Israel in 2007 while under investigation for passing information to the Hezbollah terror organization, which Israel fought during the Second Lebanon War in 2006. He currently resides in Qatar.

However, MK Dov Khenin, the only Jewish member of the Joint Arab List, alleged that the bill is another “in a series of bills aimed at changing the governing system. This time the goal is to restrict the ability to elect to the Knesset. This law is pointless and there is no need for it.”