Menu JTA Search

Israel outlaws lawmaker visits to enemy states

Israel broadened a ban on visiting enemy states to include Knesset members, who previously enjoyed exemption.

A bill preventing any Israeli who visits hostile Arab countries or Iran from being elected to parliament was ratified Monday in second and third readings. The law would allow for serving Knesset members who violate it to be disqualified as lawmakers.

The legislation was authored by right-wing factions and targeted Israeli-Arab lawmakers who have long raised hackles in the Jewish state by traveling to countries such as Lebanon and Syria, often in shows of solidarity.

Israeli law previously barred ordinary citizens from making such trips, but this had been circumvented by Knesset members who invoked their parliamentary immunity from prosecution.

The bill had been nicknamed the Bishara law, because it was submitted after former Arab lawmaker Azmi Bishara made several trips to Lebanon and Syria. He is now wanted by police, accused of treason for allegedly helping Hezbollah during the Second Lebanon War.

Six of the nine Israeli Arabs serving in the Knesset told Haaretz they would defy the law. One lawmaker, Jamal Zahalka of the Balad Party, said he would try to have it overturned in the High Court of Justice.

NEXT STORY