A-G orders police to gather information on Arab MKs visit to families of terrorists

On Friday, the Joint List said it “rejects and condemns the incitement led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu."

February 7, 2016 19:16
4 minute read.
Avichai Mandelblit

Avichai Mandelblit. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit late Sunday announced that he had instructed the police investigations and intelligence division to collect information relating to the Balad MKs recent visit to the families of Palestinian terrorists.

Mandelblit's office emphasized that no other action will be taken until he receives initial information from police.

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Most legal observers have predicted that no criminal charges will be filed since the law in this area is technical and, regardless of the potential implied support for terror, the Balad MKs said that they were only visiting to discuss helping the families obtain the bodies of their sons (who were killed while trying to kill border police officers.)

Earlier on Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the three Arab MKs who met with the families of terrorists are “building walls of hate” while the government is investing significant resources in trying to integrate Israeli Arabs into Israeli society.

Netanyahu, speaking at the opening of the weekly cabinet meeting, said he could only imagine what the response would be if members of the US Congress or British Parliament stood in a moment of silence for murderers who murdered their nationals.

“I think there would justifiably have been a great outcry,” he said, adding that he spoke to Mandelblit to examine what legal actions could be taken against the MKs, and what changes can be made in existing laws to ensure that those who act this way in the future will not serve in the Knesset.  

“This is important because it says something about the type of society we want,” Netanyahu said.

The three Balad Mks -- Jamal Zahalke, Haneen Zoabi, and Basel Ghattas -- visited the families of 10 terrorists whose bodies have not been released for burial.

“The bodies will remain in the hands of the police until we can ensure that the funerals will be quiet, and not demonstrations of support for terrorists,” he said.

Regarding the visits of the three MKs, Erdan said that if the visit was to discuss the conditions for the funerals, that was one thing. But if during the visit they – as has been reported – showed signs of support for the terrorists, then that would be a violation of the law, the MKs immunity should be lifted,  and they should be tried.

According to the Palestinian Ma'an news agency, the three MKs stood in a moment of silence for the terrorists during the visit.

Moves underway for law enabling MKs to suspend colleagues with ‘special’ majority

Netanyahu and the heads of the coalition parties agreed Sunday to formulate legislation that would suspend MKs because of “inappropriate behavior” if a special majority of 90 Knesset members voted to do so.

The move comes amid the continued furor over the three Balad Mks – Jamal Zahalka, Haneen Zoabi, and Basel Ghattas – visit to the families of the terrorists.

The legislation, according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office,  would be similar to legislation on the books now enabling the suspension of the president and Knesset speaker or deputy speaker for "inappropriate behavior" if there is a parliamentary super-majority.

On Sunday, MK Zahalke said “Netanyahu came to the conclusion that we didn’t break the law or ethics rules, and therefore, he’s going to pass a new law.

“Netanyahu knows well that our meeting had one and only purpose, to deal with returning the bodies of people who were killed and [their families] want to bury him, but he decided to distort the purpose of the meeting and claim it had a different purpose, comforting mourners, so that he could incite,” Zahalke said.

Joint List chairman Ayman Odeh, of Hadash, also accused Netanyahu of inciting.

“According to Netanyahu, he needs to rule like an emperor and the Knesset must act according to the tyranny of the majority,” Odeh said.

Odeh accused the government of “corpse trafficking,” saying the purpose of the Balad MKs’ visit was “a basic human matter.”

“A person who dies, no matter how bad his crime is, must be buried. That does not contradict our moral and principled stance condemning all harm to innocent people,” he stated.

MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) also spoke out against the initiative, writing on Facebook that it “closes the circle from when Netanyahu said ‘the Arabs are flowing to the ballots’ and he is cynically and nastily taking advantage of proposals that have been going around the far Right for a long time.”

Netanyahu and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein submitted complaints to the Knesset Ethics Committee on Sunday, one of the few courses of action they can currently take against the Balad MKs.

On Monday, the Knesset House Committee will discuss the possibility of requesting that Mandelblit and the Knesset Ethics Committee remove the Balad MKs’ parliamentary immunity, so that they can be put on trial for their actions. Joint List lawmakers plan to boycott the meeting.

The Ethics Committee received a record number of complaints, over 450, about the Balad MKs.

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