'Bishara Bill' heads for second, third Knesset readings

Knesset House Committee brings legislation against visiting enemy states a step closer to ratification.

azmi bishara 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
azmi bishara 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Knesset House Committee brought legislation named for fugitive former MK Azmi Bishara a step closer to ratification Monday, after the bill sponsored by MKs Esterina Tartman (Israel Beiteinu) and Zevulun Orlev (NU-NRP) was approved for its second and third readings on the Knesset floor. The so-called Bishara Bill, which would disqualify any candidate who has visited an enemy state without permission from being elected to the Knesset for seven years, will not be applied retroactively to cover MKs who visited enemy states without permission prior to the bill's approval. Under current laws, MKs believed to have visited enemy states without permission may face a criminal probe, but are not barred from holding office. "I congratulate the decision by the House Committee to advance the bill to its second and third readings," said Tartman late Monday morning. "This bill restores the State of Israel's pride." The proposed law would also allow any candidate accused of making such a visit to prove that his or her visit did not damage national security, and the Knesset Central Elections Committee and the Supreme Court would decide jointly whether to approve or deny the candidate's right to be elected. House Committee chairman David Tal (Kadima) said at the opening of Monday's hearing that "this law will help close the gap that currently exists, and the possibility that MKs will visit enemy states is something that would not be accepted anywhere in the world. The wide support of MKs for this proposal points to the necessity for such a law and demands that we speed up and complete the legislative process." It is highly likely that the bill, which has the official support of the government, will pass its second and third readings. It passed its first plenum test one week ago by a vote of 63-16, with three abstentions.