Sanctions Against Bishara Would Not Be Practical

Politicians and their media advisers have been working overtime recently thinking up sanctions to impose on former MK Azmi Bishara (Balad). Deputy Prime Minister and former interior minister Eli Yishai even asked the incumbent interior minister, Roni Bar-On, to revoke Bishara's citizenship.

Bar-On, a former attorney general (if only for two days), approached incumbent attorney general Menachem Mazuz to check whether it was possible to impound Bishara's property. Knesset members, meanwhile, have demanded that Bishara be deprived of his severance pay and even urged kidnapping him and bringing him to trial in Israel.

These proposals are as original as they are impractical. Some of them could only be implemented after a prolonged legal process. Others cannot be implemented at all. For example, there is no known procedure for depriving a former MK of his wages or benefits. And it seems doubtful that MKs would really want to institute such a procedure: After all, if security offenses become a reason to deprive MKs of their rights, it would not be long before other reasons are added. It is hard to think of a more effective way of curtailing MKs' independence than threatening them with the loss of their pension rights.

Bar-On has already tried once before to revoke the citizenship of a Balad MK, Wasel Taha, after the latter openly supported abducting Israel Defense Forces soldiers. Mazuz's response: "Revoking citizenship is a drastic and extreme move ... an exceptional authority that does not exist in most states in the world."

Mazuz said that he had reached an agreement with the Interior Ministry and the Shin Bet security service not to revoke anyone's citizenship until this authority is regulated by law. This has not been done.

A less groundless proposal is impounding Bishara's property. The law against financing terror enables property associated with the offense to be confiscated after a criminal conviction. However, Bishara's return would probably be required to take such a step. And even if he returns, the state must prove Bishara's connection to property that was used for terrorist acts.