Disengagement amnesty bill approved for reading

Rivlin's law would only pardon anti-disengagement protestors who did not put lives at risk.

disengagement 298.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [archive])
disengagement 298.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [archive])
The Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee approved the first reading Monday of a bill proposed by MK Reuven Rivlin (Likud) to erase the criminal records of people who face or faced prosecution as a result of crimes committed during demonstrations against the 2005 Disengagement Plan. According to the bill, which was approved in July 2007 in its preliminary reading by a vote of 37 to 10, criminal proceedings against any person convicted of a crime that was carried out with the motive of opposing Disengagement will be terminated. Any criminal record of such an offense will be closed and law-enforcement authorities would be forbidden from passing any information regarding the pardoned files to any other body - including the IDF or would-be employers. The bill does not, however, offer pardons for people who committed serious crimes that endangered lives - including aggravated assault and assault with explosives. In earlier hearings, the committee was presented with data showing that 48 of 482 files that were opened by the police and prosecution that would fall under the law, had already led to convictions, and that most of the other files were open with proceedings still underway. "In spite of the attempts by people in the Justice Ministry to delay the bill, logic won out," said Rivlin after the committee vote. "I believe that this law will help end the tears and heal the deep wound in Israeli society that was caused by the carrying-out of the Disengagement plan, a wound which is still bleeding and awaiting healing." The proposed law was met with wide committee support from the Right, moderate and haredi parties, with supporters including MKs Avraham Ravitz (UTJ), Yitzhak Ben Yisrael (Kadima), Amira Dotan (Kadima) and Nissim Ze'ev (Shas). MK Yossi Beilin (Meretz) opposed the bill. Although Dotan supported the bill, she remained critical of its result. "I hate the law that I sponsored. This is a law whose legislation could have been prevented if the prosecution was a bit more thoughtful towards people and their needs and not simply tied to the written word," she said. She explained that her subcommittee on Gush Katif evacuees had begun to seek a legislative solution after they were presented with cases in which people who wanted to be drafted to the IDF were prevented from doing so because of Disengagement-related criminal records. Dotan added that her subcommittee had attempted to reach a number of alternative solutions prior to the latest proposed legislation.