'MKs' Libya trip violates ethics'

Rivlin: Flying on Gaddafi's private jet is accepting outside funding.

By REBECCA ANNA STOIL
April 28, 2010 05:31
2 minute read.
Gaddafi hosting the Arab League Summit

Gaddafi, Arab League summit 311. (photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)

 
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While it remains unclear whether Arab MKs violated the so-called Bishara Law in their visit to Libya earlier this week, Knesset officials confirmed Tuesday evening that the six MKs did not secure the necessary Knesset approval required before their trip.

The six MKs – Ahmed Tibi (UAL) Mohammed Barakeh (Hadash), Jamal Zehalke (Balad), Afo Agbariyah (Hadash), Taleb a-Sanaa (UAL) and Hanin Zuabi (Balad) – returned to their Knesset duties Tuesday after the two-day visit. During the course of the visit the MKs met with Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Right-wing MKs and organizations blasted the MKs for the visit, arguing that they had violated Israeli law in visiting an enemy state without the approval of the interior minister. But after a legal check, Knesset Legal Advisor’s office said that their official opinion is that Libya is not an enemy state, although MK Zvulun Orlev, who drafted the Bishara Law, argued earlier this week that it is.

The Bishara Law bars from running for Knesset any candidate who illegally visited an enemy state in recent years.

RELATED:
Is Libya an enemy country? The law isn't so clear

Despite the questionable legality of the visit, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin confirmed Tuesday that the trip was clearly in violation of Knesset ethical guidelines. Whenever any MK leaves the country using outside funding, that MK must first secure the approval of the Ethics Committee. Rivlin’s office added that the fact that the MKs flew on Gaddafi’s private jet to Libya indicated that the visit was at least partially funded by the Libyan leader or the state of Libya, both of which constitute an external source.


Any MK or extra-parliamentary body is eligible to submit a complaint against the six to the Ethics Committee.

Meanwhile Tuesday, a-Sanaa took the podium in the Knesset plenum to offer his analysis of the visit in a 60-second long speech.

“I want to congratulate the Libyan leader on the historic visit,” said a-Sanaa. “There is nothing more natural than that we, the Arabs, would visit in Libya when we share the same nationality, the same culture, the same history and the same language.”

A-Sanaa added that Israel’s greatest enemy was “the state of Israel itself.”

During the visit, Gaddafi emphasized that they do not have any problem with the Jews but with Zionism, he said.

“Maybe you will learn once and for all that you are not the smartest people in the world,” added a-Sanaa.

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