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Knesset Panel Weighs Immunity of Member Suspected of PLO Ties

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The Knesset House Committee began deliberations Monday over whether to lift the parliamentary immunity of Arab Knesset member Mohammed Miari, whom Attorney General Yosef Harish wants to prosecute for alleged collaboration with the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Miari is leader of the far-left Progressive List for Peace and occupies its single Knesset seat.

While the faction openly identifies with the PLO and Miari has had numerous contacts with PLO officials in contravention of the law, the state did not “bother him,” Harish explained, because he claimed he was “discussing peace with them.”

Now, however, the attorney general charges that Miari acted in collusion with the PLO in planning to sail a shipload of Palestinian deportees to an Israeli port in November 1988.

The plan was aborted when the ferry the PLO had chartered for the purpose was disabled by an underwater explosion at the Cypriot port of Limassol.

Agents of Mossad, Israel’s foreign intelligence service, were widely believed responsible for the sabotage.

Harish is urging that Miari be stripped of his immunity because his alleged involvement with the PLO in the scheme “does not conform with the behavior expected from a member of the Knesset.”

Miari, who was off to Geneva on Monday for an international conference attended by PLO representatives, rejected Harish’s arguments. In a statement before his departure, he said he would be proud to go to jail.

He insisted, however, that as a member of Knesset he has every right to oppose actions taken by the state, even if that requires him to violate the law.

“The law itself gives a Knesset member the immunity to act to promote his mission and his political belief,” Miari said.

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