Ministers to Vote on Funding Legal Defense for Israeli Soldiers Indicted Abroad

Bill seeks to respond to 'a new tactic in the battle against the Israel Defense Forces'

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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IDF clashes with commandos aboard the Mavi Marmara ship in the Mediterranean Sea on the way to Gaza, Monday, May 31, 2010.
Credit: AP
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

A new bill will obligate the state to finance legal support for a soldier or demobilized soldier indicted overseas for giving or carrying out a lawful order. A ministerial panel is to vote on the bill on Sunday, before it moves to the Knesset floor.

According to the proposed bill, a soldier will be entitled to legal defense and full expense coverage by the state, subject to approval by a committee composed of appointees by the minister of defense, including members of the military advocate general’s department, the Defense Ministry, the Foreign Ministry, and the Justice Ministry.

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation, which decides how coalition members are to vote preceding a Knesset vote, will decide whether or not to support the bill.

The bill in question stipulates that a lawful order entitling someone to such financial assistance is in accordance with Israel’s basic law regulating the army and its orders. The bill was proposed by opposition MK Meir Cohen (Yesh Atid) and coalition chairman MK David Bitan (Likud).

In their remarks accompanying the bill, Knesset members explained,“in recent years we’ve seen a new tactic in the battle against the Israel Defense Forces, expressed as threats of indicting soldiers and officers, issued by groups in Israel and abroad. Such threats included the indictment of naval commandos after their takeover of the Marmara, a Turkish boat that took part in the Gaza relief flotilla in 2010.”

They claim that “the purpose of these moves is, among other things, to deter IDF soldiers and officers from freely performing their duties or from freely traveling overseas.”