Former Israeli Arab MK Set to Lose Pension for Skipping Trial

Knesset Committee approves in first reading bill to deny stipends from lawmakers who fail to appear at a criminal trial against them, as former MK Azmi Bishara did by fleeing Israel.

Zvi Zrahiya
Zvi Zrahiya
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Zvi Zrahiya
Zvi Zrahiya

Former MK Azmi Bishara is set to lose his monthly pension in the wake of a new Knesset ruling that allows the revocation of stipends from lawmakers who fail to appear at a criminal trial against them.

The proposal, which applies to current or former member of Knesset undergoing investigation for crimes punishable by at least five years, was approved by the Knesset House Committee.

Azmi Bishara in court in 2003. Credit: Baz Ratner

The bill went to Knesset after receiving the approval of the Ministerial Committee on Legislation this past July.

Bishara fled the country in 2007 after police announced that he was suspected of having given information to Hezbollah before and during the Second Lebanon War, the year before. As a result, he cannot be brought to trial and still enjoys a legal presumption of innocence.

Bishara was awarded a NIS 193,000 acclimation benefit from the Knesset after his resignation.

The High Court of Justice two years ago rejected a petition demanding that it strip Bishara of both his citizenship and his pension. The decision was made two months after the Knesset passed an early reading of a bill to revoke the pensions of MKs in his situation.

On the citizenship issue, the justices noted that after the petition was filed, the Knesset amended the law governing the procedures for stripping someone of his citizenship. Not only had Danon not attempted to utilize this new process before going to the High Court, they said, but he submitted insufficient evidence to satisfy the new law's requirements for revoking citizenship.

On the pension issue, the justices noted that the law does not permit a former MK to be deprived of his pension.

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