MK petitions Knesset's refusal to suspend Omri Sharon

MK Aryeh Eldad petitioned the High Court of Justice on Tuesday against a Knesset committee's decision rejecting his request to consider suspending Kadima MK Omri Sharon, who was recently convicted of grand larceny and lying under oath. Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court has not yet sentenced Sharon or determined whether the crimes he committed involved moral turpitude. According to the law, should the court decide that the crimes do involve moral turpitude, Sharon will have no choice but to resign from the Knesset. However, until the sentence is handed down, and a likely subsequent appeal heard in Tel Aviv District Court, Sharon is not obliged by law to resign. According to the Basic Law, MKs may ask the Knesset House Committee to suspend an MK after he has been convicted of a crime. Such a request was submitted by Eldad (National Unity Party) and Shinui MK Reshef Cheyne. However, committee chairman Roni Bar-On, who is a member of Sharon's Kadima Party, refused to convene the committee. He refused a second time after the Knesset's legal adviser, Nurit Elstein, wrote that the Knesset could consider suspending an MK immediately after he was convicted. On Tuesday, Eldad petitioned the court, charging that Bar-On's decision was flawed and the Knesset could suspend an MK after his conviction. He said the decision "causes injury to the effort to assure ethical conduct in the Knesset and undermines public confidence." In another petition filed Tuesday, the watchdog organization Ometz called on the Knesset to suspend Salah Tarif, who is due to join the Labor faction, until the district court rules on his appeal against his conviction on charges of accepting a bribe. The state has asked the court to rule that Tarif's crime involved moral turpitude. If the court grants it, Tarif will not be able to join the Knesset.