Arab MK A-Sanaa blasts 'Bishara Bill'

Says proposed law banning trips to enemy states "is worse than the Nuremberg Laws."

taleb a sanaa 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
taleb a sanaa 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
Accusations flew and decorum went out the window as the Knesset House Committee voted Tuesday in favor of sending the so-called "Bishara Bill" to the plenum for its first vote. Arab party MKs blasted the bill's supporters, claiming that the proposed law, which would void the candidacy of any MK who visited an enemy state without receiving permission to do so, was undemocratic. Although the bill did not specify that it targeted Arab MKs and would-be MKs, it was clear to all involved on both sides of the debate that trips such as former Balad chairman Azmi Bishara's were the law's raison d'etre. The proposed law is actually an amendment to the already-existing Knesset Basic Law and would disqualify the candidacy of any would-be MK who visits an enemy state. "When an Arab political leader travels to an enemy country, one doesn't have to be naïve concerning his motivations and about his loyalty to the country and damage done to its security," said MK Zevulun Orlev (NU/NRP), who sponsored the bill together with MK Esterina Tartman (Israel Beiteinu). MK Taleb A-Sanaa (UAL) said that Orlev "was giving fascism a bad name" and that the proposed law was "worse than the Nuremberg Laws." A-Sanaa complained that the law was illegal because it mandated punishment without a criminal conviction. "We will continue to visit 'enemy states' and to support peace," a-Sanaa promised. Orlev, in response, described a-Sanaa and his colleagues as a "fifth column," emphasizing that he is interested in Arabs being represented in the Knesset as long as they are loyal to the identity of Israel as a Jewish democratic country. After being called to order repeatedly by committee Chairman MK David Tal (Kadima), a-Sanaa was later ejected from the hearing. But he was far from the only MK involved in verbal fisticuffs during the heated debate. After MK Alex Miller (Israel Beiteinu) jumped to Orlev's defense, saying that a-Sanaa's comments demonstrated "the level of Arab MKs," Hadash MK Muhammad Barakei told Miller to "go to hell." In the midst of the fighting, MKs heard from Assistant Attorney-General Yehoshua Shopman, who said the government decided to support the law following a deal hammered out during its preliminary reading. According to that compromise, a candidate would be only be disqualified on the condition that the trip was made without receiving prior permission and after a court remained unconvinced as to the motivation behind the trip.