Knesset MKs at plenum 370.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
A bill that would prevent citizens of enemy countries from suing the State of Israel cleared a parliamentary hurdle on Wednesday.
The “Dirani Bill,” named after Lebanese terrorist Mustafa Dirani, who is suing the state for civil damages, was proposed by MKs Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi) and David Rotem (Yisrael Beytenu) and passed a preliminary reading with 55 MKs in favor and 23 opposed.
The legislation reads: “It has always been in the intentions of the Israeli lawmaker that the rule which applies in many countries in the Western world applies in Israel as well – from the day it was founded, as a part of the [British] Mandatory legal system.
“Under this accepted principle,” the bill reads, “an enemy of the state never had the right to stand before Israeli courts.”
As long as there is a state of war between Israel and another country, a citizen of that enemy country who is involved in terrorist activity cannot exercise legal rights in Israel, the bill states.
MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) voiced opposition to the bill, arguing that a citizen of an enemy state has civil rights irrespective of the political or diplomatic situation between his country and Israel.
Dirani, a former leader of the Lebanese Shi’ite terrorist group Amal, was believed to have had personal knowledge of the whereabouts of kidnapped IAF navigator Lt.-Col. Ron Arad.
Arad – who is still missing – was captured by Amal forces in October 1986 during a mission to attack PLO targets near Sidon in Lebanon.
Dirani was captured by Israel in 1994 and was released to Lebanon in a prisoner-exchange `deal in 2004.
In 2000, Dirani filed a NIS 6 million suit in the Tel Aviv District Court, charging that interrogators had raped him, sodomized him with a club, kept him naked for weeks and humiliated him in an effort to extract information about Arad’s whereabouts.
Dirani had announced his intention to work for Hezbollah on his return to Lebanon, and the state appealed to the Tel Aviv District Court, asking for Dirani’s lawsuit to be canceled.
However, in 2005, the Tel Aviv District Court rejected the state’s request to cancel the lawsuit, and the state appealed to the Supreme Court, which ruled that Dirani could continue with his lawsuit, even though he remains in Lebanon.
The state argued that Israel should act in accordance with Anglo-American law, which prohibits an enemy of the state residing in a hostile country from suing the state.Yonah Jeremy Bob contributed to this report.