Balad MK Basel Ghattas.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
MK Moti Yogev (Bayit Yehudi) has introduced legislation that seeks to revoke the salaries and retirement benefits of elected officials convicted of security offenses.
The bill submitted on Wednesday comes after MK Basel Ghattas (Balad) agreed in a plea bargain to resign from the Knesset and serve two years in prison for smuggling cellphones to convicted terrorists in Ketziot Prison.
A similar law passed in 2011 aimed to strip former Balad chairman Azmi Bishara of his pension after he was accused of assisting the enemy (Hezbollah) during the Second Lebanon War. He fled the country.
However, the “Azmi Bishara Law” only applies to those sentenced to at least 10 years in prison.
Basel Ghattas in court after being arrested for allegedly smuggling phones to prisoners, Dec. 23, 2016
The new bill, an amendment to the Penal Code, focuses on the nature of the felony and not on the length of the sentence. The bill seeks to revoke the benefits of all elected officials convicted of security-related offenses. The revoked benefits would include all pension funds, retirement stipends and severance payments.
Yogev said: “It is inconceivable that the Israeli public should pay from its own pocket the pensions of lawmakers convicted of supporting terrorism and harming Israel’s security.”
Im Tirtzu CEO Matan Peleg, who was involved in formulating the legislation, said Ghattas is merely the latest of a long line of Balad party members seeking to harm the security of Israel.
“The bill aims to revoke the salaries and retirement benefits of elected officials who work against the State of Israel and its citizens,” said Peleg. “The reality in which elected officials violate laws and endanger the security of the state on the one hand, and continue to receive benefits at the expense of the taxpayer on the other hand, cannot continue.”
Peleg added that all members of Knesset, regardless of religion or ideological affiliation, are expected to uphold the law and not act as part of a fifth column. “Elected officials should think twice before opting to endanger Israel’s security,” he said. “This is another step toward ending the phenomenon wherein the state funds those seeking to destroy it.”
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