Former diplomat Alon Liel broke the law by petitioning European parliaments to recognize Palestinian statehood, Bayit Yehudi MK Yinon Magal wrote in a letter to Attorney- General Yehuda Weinstein on Tuesday.
Liel, a former Foreign Ministry director-general and ambassador to South Africa, spearheaded a petition calling for parliaments to recognize a Palestinian state based on pre-1967 lines. The petition, opened online last October, has 996 signatories and was co-initiated by left-wing activist Naftali Raz and Hebrew University chemistry professor Amiram Goldblum.
In a video filmed last month, Liel pointed out that eight legislative bodies, including the European Parliament, have called for their governments to recognize a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, and claimed that was a result of the petition and related lobbying efforts coordinated with Palestinians.
In his letter to Weinstein, Magal cited a clause in the penal code passed in 1957 stating that “anyone who, with an intention that any territory leave the sovereignty of the state or enter the sovereignty of a foreign state, acted in a way that could cause this to happen, can be sentenced to death or life in prison.”
Magal also referred to a High Court of Justice decision from 1993 allowing an official representative of the government to take such actions, but not a private, unauthorized person.
Most of the land Israel liberated in the Six Day War is not sovereign land, but parts of Jerusalem are, which are called the Palestinian capital in the European Parliament’s December 2014 resolution.
In his letter, Magal wrote that he values freedom of expression, even when the things being said could harm the state, “but the law draws a clear border between speech and actions, and Dr. Liel himself testifies to his diplomatic and political activity.
“The maximum punishment in the law is the most severe in our law books, and we can certainly learn from that the severity with which the legislators saw such actions, though, in my opinion, Dr.
Liel’s actions do not justify a punishment at this level,” he added. “At the same time, we cannot treat this clause like it is a dead letter.”
As such, Magal asked Weinstein to examine Liel’s behavior in relation to the law and initiate proceedings against him if they are found to violate it.
The MK also asked Weinstein for his legal opinion as to the scope of the law in relation to private initiatives seeking for Israel to give up sovereign land.
“Alon Liel put up a video describing how he goes from parliament to parliament to [encourage] these resolutions [recognizing Palestinian statehood] and he wants the UN to pass decisions that will sanction Israel and expel it from the UN,” Magal told The Jerusalem Post.
“This law needs to be examined, along with what is done with people acting to create a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, which would mean moving sovereignty to a foreign state,” he said.
“It’s not just a case where I think what [Liel] is doing is not okay; there’s a law, and he’s breaking it,” Magal added.
“Weinstein needs to examine the topic and explain what is allowed and what isn’t and what he plans to do.”
Liel declined to comment on Magal’s letter.
In the video from March, which was filmed for an Independent Jewish Voice conference in the UK, Liel said the goal of the petitions is to put extreme diplomatic pressure on Israel to force it to withdraw from the West Bank and treat the Palestinians as equals.
Liel expressed hope that his petition and lobbying efforts will create a consensus in the European public in favor of a Palestinian state, which will lead to the four European members of the UN Security Council to vote in favor of one.
If “Palestine” becomes a member state in the UN “without even negotiating with Israel, bypassing it, this [would be] a nightmare for Israel, because of the occupation,” Liel said.
“If we occupy a member state of the UN, we are in an entirely different international situation,” he explained. “If this happens, procedures will start to expel Israel from the UN.
This is something the Israeli public cannot allow... This will level the playing ground and brings the Palestinians... to the point where we have to relate to them.”
Liel said the terrorist attack on the Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket in Paris in January made European politicians hesitate to recognize a Palestinian state, and expressed hope that he will be able to “revive the momentum” in places such as Finland, Slovenia and Switzerland.