C'tee backs Disengagement amnesty bill

Ctee backs Disengagemen

The Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee voted unanimously Monday to advance a law proposed during the last Knesset that would offer amnesty for anyone who has criminal files against them related to protesting Disengagement. Having passed this hurdle, the law will be placed before the Knesset plenum for vote, and should it be approved, will be assigned to the Knesset Law Committee for further debate. 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 sponsored emphasized that prosecutors were undeservedly tough in refusing to close criminal cases against protesters who were otherwise upstanding citizens. Likud faction chair 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 products and to continue to act for the sake of the evacuees, their return to Israeli society and to heal the tear as part of our responsibility for the unity of Israeli society." The law has a very good chance of passing its upcoming plenum vote - last week the Ministerial Committee for Legislation also voted to continue the legislation, which had been halted with the end of the previous Knesset. Among the original bill's sponsors is now-prime minister, then-opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu. Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud) also 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." "There are days in which democracy must forgive, and leave the burdens of the past behind. Disengagement was a national trauma; it is impossible to compare it to any other social crisis," Rivlin said.