Coalition MKs upset about cooperating with Joint List in Knesset

A bill advanced on Thursday that would forbid spying for the Palestinian Authority or the European Union.

 L-R Gilad Ach of the Ad Kan organization and Likud MK Avi Dichter. (photo credit: UDI TENNE)
L-R Gilad Ach of the Ad Kan organization and Likud MK Avi Dichter.
(photo credit: UDI TENNE)

Knesset members in Yamina and New Hope expressed discomfort on Thursday with the coalition’s cooperation with the Joint List to help the coalition defeat the Likud’s no-confidence motion on Monday. Coalition officials said more cooperation with the Joint List is on the way.

Following the departure of former coalition chairwoman Idit Silman, the only way for the coalition to pass bills that require the support of 61 MKs is with the Joint List, which will be asked to help pass the 2023 state budget and Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar’s bill that would enact term limits for prime minister.

The coalition has agreed to start passing some bills from the opposition. One that was advanced in a preliminary reading on Wednesday would prohibit spying for the Palestinian Authority’s security services.

The bill, initiated by former Shin Bet chief MK Avi Dichter (Likud), seeks to ban contact between Israeli organizations and citizens, and security and intelligence agencies of foreign entities that are not states including the PA and European Union.

The bill passed with the support of the government by a vote of 23-2.

 Ra'am MK Mazen Ghanaim is seen speaking with Joint List MK Ahmad Tibi in the Knesset, on January 5, 2022. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90) Ra'am MK Mazen Ghanaim is seen speaking with Joint List MK Ahmad Tibi in the Knesset, on January 5, 2022. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

The proposed amendment to the Penal Code is intended to close a loophole in the law that is being used by the Palestinian Authority’s intelligence and security method to gather intelligence on and within Israel.

Due to the PA not being a state, and due to its removal from the list of terrorist organizations, the PA is not included in the existing law.

The bill is intended to change the definition in the law of “foreign agent” so that it also includes foreign policy entities that are not considered a state or a terrorist group.

Dichter said the prosecution of Israelis who cooperate or provide information to the PA or Israel’s hostile bodies hiding behind a European or international screen is not a matter of Left or Right, but a national priority.

Gilad Ach, director-general of the Ad Kan organization, which exposes the activities of Palestinian preventive security within left-wing organizations and helped initiate the bill, said the law must prohibit contact with PA intelligence threats.

“The bill will help against those who collect information,” said Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar. “That is why we decided to support it.”