'Bishara Law' Passes First Reading

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CBNNew.com - JERUSALEM, Israel - The Israeli Knesset passed the preliminary reading of the 'Bishara Law' by a 63 to 16 vote Tuesday.

The legislation, co-sponsored by Members of Knesset Zevulun Orlev (National Union/National Religious Party) and Estherina Tartman (Yisrael Beiteinu), would not allow a candidate who has visited an enemy state without permission to run for the Knesset.

The bill amends a foundational Israeli law, called Basic Law: The Knesset, so it required a majority of 61 votes to pass its preliminary reading.

"Finally, the Knesset said what the majority of the Israeli public has been waiting for," said Tartman. "With this law, we are beginning a process of returning self-respect to the nation and the state," she said.

The law is named after Azmi Bishara, former head of the Balad party, suspected of aiding the Lebanese-based Hezbollah terror organization during the Second Lebanon War in the summer of 2006.

"A visit by a political figure to an enemy state has only one possible interpretation: support for an enemy state, support for the 'armed struggle' against Israel and support for terror organizations," the bill's co-sponsor, Zevulun Orlev, said.

"This bill is intended to ensure the loyalty of MKs toward the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state," he said.

While most government ministers voted for the bill, the prime minister abstained, as did Finance Minister Roni Bar-On and MK Shlomo Mula (Kadima).

MK Ahmed Tibi railed against Tartman and the legislation.

"The face of the Knesset is the face of Estherina, Knesseterina," he said.

"This is a populist and McCarthyist bill. It is anti-democratic in its essence and will never withstand the test of the Supreme Court because there is no connection between the right to elect and be elected and to visit any state, including those with Israel is currently making contact toward a peace agreement," he said, adding that the bill's real aim is an Arab-free Knesset.

Source: The Jerusalem Post

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