Israel One Step Closer to Stripping Former Arab MK of Pension

Knesset approves first reading of bill that would revoke stipend from any current or former lawmaker who skipped criminal trial; Bishara fled to Jordan when under probe for passing information to Hezbollah.

A bill to strip the stipends of former or current lawmakers who fail to appear at a criminal trial against them was approved by the Knesset plenum on Monday.

Former MK Azmi Bishara, who fled to Jordan in the midst of an investigation against him, is set to lose his monthly pension if the proposal becomes a law; the bill must still be approved in its second and third reading before it goes into effect.

Azmi Bishara
Baz Ratner

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 bill regarding revocation of pensions won the approval of the Ministerial Committee on Legislation this past July and was passed by the Knesset House Committee in November.

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.