A Blow to Immunity

Knesset members, their offices and the Knesset building itself have almost absolute immunity. The question that arises, therefore, is to what extent sealing MK Azmi Bishara's office contradicts that immunity and how much it harms the Knesset's sovereignty and independence.

The law states that no state official, such as a policeman, may carry out his official duties on the Knesset grounds unless he obtains a permit from the Knesset speaker. A civil servant who violates this clause can face up to a year in prison.

Former Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin warned against "sliding down a slippery slope" by eroding the immunity of the Knesset building and Knesset members. Violations of this immunity, he said, should be allowed in only the rarest, most exceptional cases, involving activity against the state's very existence.

In resigning at Israel's embassy in Cairo, Bishara acted according to Knesset regulations, which state that an MK abroad should resign before an Israeli diplomatic representative. The letter was sent via the Foreign Affairs Ministry to the Knesset, where it was received at 12:55 P.M. It will take effect at that time two days later, meaning tomorrow, Independence Day. In the interim, Bishara can change his mind.