Knesset Panel Strikes Blow at Israel’s Anti-terror Law

In a blow to Israel’s law barring contacts with officials of terrorist organizations, a Knesset committee has voted down a proposal to lift the parliamentary immunity of four Knesset members who met recently with officials of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

By a vote of 8-3, the House Committee voted to keep intact the immunity enjoyed by three Arab Knesset members and a representative of the left-wing Meretz bloc, one of the parties that makes up Israel’s coalition government. The move prevents them from being prosecuted under the anti-terror law.

Members of the opposition Likud bloc charged the committee had trampled on a state law by using a “technical majority” in favor of Abd el-Wahab Darawshe and Taleb al-Sanaa of the Arab Democratic Party, Hashem Mahmid of the Hadash Communists and Naomi Chazan of Meretz.

Committee Chairman Haggai Merom of Labor conceded that the vote in effect nullified the 1986 law forbidding contact with terrorist organizations.

But he said he hoped it would accelerate the announced government intention of amending the law to decriminalize such contacts, which have, in fact, increasingly taken place between Knesset members and PLO officials.

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