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Regev says probe MKs who broke Prisoner X censorship
By LAHAV HARKOV
02/13/2013
Liberman accuses Tibi, Gal-On, Henin of identifying with enemy; Aharonovitch gets "Australian flu."
 
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.

Likud 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 matter.

“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 their questions.

“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 press.

“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 stated.

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.

Referring to 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 and democracy.”

Henin chose not to respond to the criticisms, with his spokesman saying the MK won’t “stoop to that level.”

Public Security 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 flu.”

Meanwhile, MKs continued to ask questions on the issue, this time to Interior Minister Eli Yishai, who spoke in the plenum.

“Are you concerned that Israel in the 21st century holds people in prison, who die, without the public and its representatives knowing?” Gal-On asked.

MK 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.
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