Shas Party Officials Now Upset About Search of Member’s Office

In what they see as a clear violation of a Knesset member’s parliamentary immunity, the Shas party is claiming that police investigators have confiscated documents from the offices of Knesset member Yosef Azran.

Members of the Shas caucus demanded Thursday that the Knesset return from its summer recess and convene to discuss the matter.

The confiscation by the police came as the result of a complaint filed by the opposition National Religious Party — a rival of Shas — that someone had gained unauthorized access to the party’s computer and had stolen classified information.

According to Shas, police investigators dealing with the complaint confiscated documents from Azran’s room without authorization. They maintain that the police took documents that were totally unrelated to the complaint, such as the transcripts of telephone conversations held by Azran.

Shas noted that the police investigating team was headed by Meir Gilboa, the officer who headed the investigation into the financial affairs of the Shas party leader, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri.

Deri and another top Shas official, Deputy Religious Affairs Minister Raphael Pinhasi, have been under investigation for alleged financial misdealings.

Their cases have already led to threats that Shas will abandon the Labor-led coalition government.

In contrast to his colleagues’ complaints, Azran himself tended to play down the police confiscation. He expressed the view Thursday that police had no bad intentions and that “journalists were meddling in the affair too much.”

Similar comments were made by Labor Knesset member Hagai Meirom, chairman of the Knesset House Committee.

But he, too, believed that an inquiry should be held into whether the police had violated the parliamentary immunity of a Knesset member.

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