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2001-11-08

Israel’s Knesset Votes to Revoke Immunity From Popular Palestinian Member of Parliament Azmibishara—He Can Now Be Prosecuted for Publicly Supporting Palestinian Right to Resist Occupation

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Yesterday, the Israeli Knesset voted to revoke the Parliamentary immunity of Palestinian MK Azmi Bishara

Bishara is the only Parliamentary representative of the National Democratic Assembly, the first Palestinian politicalparty in Israel to call for the transformation of Israel into a state for all its citizens.

The action comes after Israel’s Attorney General filed two separate draft indictments against Bishara, and will allowBishara to stand trial. The first indictment charges MK Bishara with incitement to violence and support for aterrorist organization (Hizballah), as defined by Israel’s Prevention of Terror Ordinance (1948). It is for twospeeches Bishara gave, one at a rally in an Arab town inside Israel, the other at a memorial ceremony for SyrianPresident Hafez al-Assad. In both speeches, MK Bishara addressed the internationally recognized right for an occupiedpeople to resist occupation. The second indictment charges Bishara with violating Israel’s Emergency Regulations by"abetting illegal exit from the country." Bishara organized humanitarian visits to Syria for elderly Palestiniancitizens of Israel who have been forcibly separated from their families for over 50 years.

This is the first time that the Israeli Knesset has removed a member of parliament’s immunity for speech, rather thanon criminal charges. Azmi Bishara is a well-known Palestinian intellectual and politician. He was head of the ArabStudents Union throughout Israeli universities in the 1970s. He taught philosophy and political science at Bir ZeitUniversity in Ramallah. In 1999, MK Bishara became the first Palestinian to run for Prime Minister of Israel. Inthis year’s elections, which pitted Ariel Sharon against former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, he called for a boycott ofthe elections.

Guests:

  • Dr. Azmi Bishara, Member Of Israeli Knesset.
  • Dr. Amnon Raz-Krakozkin, Professor Of Jewish History Ben Gurion University.

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