Two members of Knesset from the Likud party have withdrawn their demand that Labor Knesset member Yael Dayan be stripped of her parliamentary immunity because of her recent meeting with a senior official of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
Limor Livnat and Michael Eitan changed their minds Monday, after Dayan made a statement at a meeting of the Knesset House Committee in which she promised to refrain from further violating the Israeli law banning meetings with PLO officials until it is amended. Eitan said that in view of Dayan’s statement, he no longer sees a point in demanding an immunity waiver, which would enable her to be prosecuted for breaking the law.
The government of Yitzhak Rabin has announced that it intends to amend the law soon. Yet the prime minister reportedly expressed displeasure at the meeting, and Dayan said she was taking his disapproval into account in making her decision.
Dayan met in The Hague with Nabil Sha’ath, a key political adviser to PLO chief Yasir Arafat. She was accompanied by Naomi Chazan of the Meretz bloc. Chazan, a Hebrew University professor, is presently out of the country, and the demand to remove her immunity is still in effect.
As it stands, the Israeli law provides up to three years’ imprisonment for “any Israeli citizen or resident who knowingly, and without authorization, has contact in Israel or abroad with a person who fills a function in the executive council or other similar body in a terrorist organization, or who serves as an official representative of a terrorist organization.”
But meetings between members of Knesset and PLO officials have almost become a tradition.
In early August, a delegation of six Israeli Arabs, including a member of Knesset, met with PLO officials in Tunis after saying they would not.
In 1989, controversy arose over a meeting Knesset member Arieh (Lova) Eliav of Labor had with PLO officials.
Many other meetings between Israeli politicians and PLO officials have taken place in Eastern Europe.
And in December 1989, Rabin, then defense minister, said his ministry had authorized and paid for meetings between relatives of Israeli soldiers captured during the invasion of Lebanon and PLO representatives.
In March 1989, Chazan conducted a survey on support for direct Israeli-PLO negotiations. More than 70 percent of Israeli women favored such talks, as did 50 percent of men, Chazan said at the time.