Amnesty bill for disengagement protesters advances

Amnesty bill for disenga

The Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee voted unanimously Monday to advance a law proposed during the last Knesset that would offer amnesty to anyone who has criminal files against them related to protesting the Gaza disengagement in 2005. Having passed this hurdle, the law will be come before a plenum for a vote. Should it be approved, will be forwarded to the Knesset Law Committee for further debate. The plenum is expected to approve it. Last week the Ministerial Committee for Legislation also voted to continue the legislation, which had been suspended when the last Knesset dissolved. Among the original bill's sponsors is now-prime minister, then-opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu. The bill does not apply to those suspected or convicted of "severe violent offenses" or whose offenses endangered human life, or for those who already had a criminal record prior to the 2005 disengagement protests. The bill's sponsors emphasized that prosecutors were undeservedly tough in refusing to close criminal cases against protesters who were otherwise upstanding citizens. Likud faction chairman Ze'ev Elkin presided over the vote, at the end of which he said that "today, the majority of the public understands that disengagement was a great error that seriously harmed Israel's security, economy and society, and was a social and political trauma. "We, as legislators, have the obligation to remove these negative results and to continue to act for the sake of the evacuees, their return to Israeli society and to heal the rift as part of our responsibility for the unity of Israeli society." Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud) expressed his satisfaction with the committee's decision, noting that "in the course of the hearings on the bill, we enabled the prosecutor's office to formulate an independent process" to avoid the necessity of writing such a bill. "I agreed to pull the bill if they did so, but the prosecutors chose not to advance the process, and thus the Knesset had no choice but to continue with the legislation of this bill, which is designed to offer a response to a unique situation," Rivlin said.