Knesset Committee to Consider Revoking MK Bishara's Benefits

Hearing marks first time Bishara affair is discussed in Knesset; benefits include newspapers, PR funding.

The Knesset House Committee is expected to discuss revoking some of the benefits of Balad Chairman Azmi Bishara receives as a Knesset member next week. The benefits that may be revoked include free newspapers and funds given to stay in contact with the public, but not his monthly salary.

Committee Chairman Ruhama Avraham said that she intends to approve the request initiated by MKs Shai Hermesh (Kadima) and Gilad Ardan (Likud), and will ask Knesset legal adviser Nurit Elstein to make her opinion on this irregular proceeding known.

The meeting will apparently take place in a week, as the committee must first deliberate on President Moshe Katsav's request to extend his period of incapacity.

As this will be the first Knesset meeting on the Bishara affair, it is likely that Knesset members will take the opportunity to comment on all aspects of the case.

The Petah Tikva Magistrate's Court ruled on Sunday that the press could discuss the existence of the Bishara probe, but not its substance, lifting a rare court order which had forbidden even the publication of the existence of a gag order.

"Azmi Bishara announced that he won't be coming to work anymore, and therefore he does not deserve the benefits Knesset members receive such as funds and newspapers," he said.