Adalah to Represent MK Azmi Bishara


Adalah has begun preparations for the legal representation of Arab Member of Knesset (MK) Dr. Azmi Bishara. Following yesterday’s vote by the full Knesset Assembly to remove his immunity, as requested by the Attorney General, Dr. Bishara faces two indictments. He is charged with supporting a terrorist organization, based on political speeches he made in Syria and the Arab town of Umm al-Fahem in Israel, and with assisting Palestinian citizens of Israel to visit their relatives in Syria.


In Adalah’s view, the indictments reflect a legal/political perspective, which damages the status of the Palestinian minority as citizens of Israel. The political freedom of the minorities’ elected officials must be protected so that their leaders can represent their constituents and express their different positions and criticisms of the state. 


In Dr. Bishara’s case, Adalah will rely on Israeli Supreme Court precedent, international comparative law and international human rights standards. Adalah will invite local and international experts to testify in court regarding the various issues raised by the indictments. Immediately following Adalah’s announcement that it would represent Dr. Bishara, lawyers, experts and academics from human rights organizations and universities worldwide approached Adalah to express their support and to offer their services.


On 30 October 2001, Adalah submitted a legal opinion to the Knesset House Committee to counter the Attorney General’s arguments to remove Dr. Bishara’s immunity. Adalah’s legal opinion stated that Dr. Bishara’s speeches and actions fell within the immunity provided to any MK since he performed them in fulfillment of his position as an MK and they are based on the political platform of his party, Balad. Legal academics present at the Knesset House Committee session agreed with this interpretation of the law. Adalah will raise these issues at trial as a preemptory challenge to the two indictments leveled against Dr. Bishara by the Attorney General.


See also Adalah’s News Updates, Adalah asks Knesset Committee not to

Remove the Immunity of MK Azmi Bishara – 1 November 2001; and No Legal Basis for Opening a Criminal Investigation Against MK Azmi Bishara – 14 June 2001