AG: Feiglin's Offenses Are Crimes of Moral Turpitude

Attorney General Menachem Mazuz called on the Supreme Court on Monday to label far-right Likud figure Moshe Feiglin's offenses of incitement as crimes of moral turpitude, and therefore bar him from running for Knesset.

Mazuz is demanding that the Supreme Court overrule Justice Yaakov Tirkel's 1997 ruling that Feiglin's convictions, including both verbal and published calls for rebellion, are not crimes of moral turpitude.

According to Mazuz, "a High Court ruling is necessary in light of today's volatile reality, inflammatory (remarks) in the public arena, which are expected to become even fiercer, and the negative impact that could come of leaving this decision unchanged, from the standpoint of the problematic public message that it conveys."

"The type of offenses listed in the case are completely contradictory to the functioning of a member of Knesset," the attorney general added. "They represent an attempt to undermine the very foundations of democracy."

Mazuz says the blurring in definitions between "legitimate protest and attempts to crumble the stability of the government through ongoing lawbreaking is a privilege that the Israeli society cannot allow itself to indulge in at times like this."

Feiglin was convicted in September 1997, after members of the far-right movement that he led engaged in violent protest in 1995, in the months prior to the assassination of then-prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.

According to the charge-sheet, Feiglin decided to "thwart the implementation of the government's decision regarding agreements made with the Palestinian Authority, called on the public to commit unlawful acts, including disrupting order en masse, intentionally blocking major junctions and calls for action against the Palestinians."

Feiglin was sentenced to six months' prison time, 12 months' parole, on top of six months' active jail time he received due to breaching the terms of parole on a prior offense.

Feiglin asked to run in the 2003 election as a member of the Likud. According to basic law, anyone who is convicted and sentenced to active time in prison, is not allowed to run for the Knesset if seven years haven't gone by since the end of the prison term, unless the offense is not considered a crime of moral turpitude.

According to Mazuz, Feiglin "hid his conviction and his prison sentence," and only after former Meretz MK Naomi Hazan petitioned the central elections committee to demand that Feiglin be disqualified, did the discrepancy surface.

Justice Mishael Heshin disqualified Feiglin's candidacy, and even after he appealed, an 11-Judge panel confirmed he could not run.

Four Justices said Feiglin's actions were crimes of moral turpitude, but three others disagreed and no final ruling was made on the matter.

Feiglin turned to Tirkel some months ago to end the dispute. Around a month ago Tirkel ruled that crimes of moral turpitude are those that leave a layperson "feeling revulsion, repugnance, contempt, disgust and hatred" and that Feiglin's actions "weren't contaminated by moral flaws that are contemptible, and he is not shrouded in irrevocable shame."