Politicians debated the ethics and legality of using parliamentary immunity to
publicize the “Prisoner X” case on Wednesday, after three MKs made it possible
for the press to cover the issue by discussing it in the plenum.
Beytenu MK and former IDF spokeswoman Miri Regev wrote a letter to Attorney-
General Yehuda Weinstein, demanding he investigate the lawmakers who broke a
court censorship order.
“MKs Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta’al), Dov
Henin (Hadash) and Zehava Gal-On (Meretz), who swore to be loyal to the State of
Israel only a few days ago, broke the law,” she wrote.
Regev added that
the MKs’ questions revealed sensitive details and harmed Israel’s security,
saying they “misinterpreted” the limits of their parliamentary immunity and
cooperated with the foreign media, leading to public discourse on a censored
“MKs are not above the law,” the Likud Beytenu MK
wrote. “I think they must be investigated, and we must set a public
standard so all will see.”
On Tuesday, Tibi, Gal-On and Henin asked
outgoing Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman about the Australian ex-Mossad agent
found dead in his cell, according to foreign sources.
The case had been
kept out of the local press for over two years via a court order, but was
revealed by Australia’s ABC News on Tuesday.
The Prime Minister’s Office
reminded the media of the ban, but due to MKs’ parliamentary immunity, Tibi,
Gal- On and Henin were able to discuss the incident, and the press could quote
“From what I can tell, this was another attempt to harm
national security,” MK Avigdor Liberman (Likud Beytenu) said in an interview
with Army Radio. “These people try time and again to harm us and justify our
enemies. They identify with the enemy in wartime.”
MK Mickey Levy (Yesh
Atid) said that while it is in the public interest for lawmakers to have
immunity, there are avenues in the Knesset to investigate sensitive issues, like
the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, which is closed to the
“There was no need to reveal the matter in the plenum before its
security ramifications were clear to the MKs who chose to do so,” Levy
Gal-On responded to the criticisms, saying that Liberman does not
understand democracy or the role of MKs.
“Someone should remind him that
we are not in [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s parliament, and in a
civilized country, the government should have reported this serious matter to
the Knesset and the public of its own initiative,” she said.
Liberman’s legal troubles, Tibi said: “Some take advantage of their immunity for
breach of trust and corruption, and some do it to protect the values of freedom
Henin chose not to respond to the criticisms, with his
spokesman saying the MK won’t “stoop to that level.”
Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, who is responsible for the prison service, was
supposed to address the Knesset on Wednesday morning, but canceled at the last
minute, leading Tibi to joke on Twitter that the minister caught the “Australian
Meanwhile, MKs continued to ask questions on the issue, this time
to Interior Minister Eli Yishai, who spoke in the plenum.
concerned that Israel in the 21st century holds people in prison, who die,
without the public and its representatives knowing?” Gal-On asked.
Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) said he sent a letter to Weinstein in 2010, when
reports briefly appeared on Israeli news sites that an unknown person was in the
Ayalon Prison before being censored. His letter said the incarceration is a
violation of international law.
“Is this not a failure of the law
enforcement system?” Horowitz asked. “This all happened under a total and
draconian blackout that has no place in democratic regimes.”
At the time,
Horowitz added, a senior person in the Attorney- General’s Office told him the
anonymous prisoner was under supervision.
“I do not know any democratic
country in the world like Israel that acts in a legal and democratic way that
other countries envy, in every area and without exceptions,” was Yishai’s
response to the Meretz MKs’ inquiries.