Adalah to Knesset House Committee: Proposed Movement Restrictions on MK Dr. Ahmed Tibi are Illegal and Unconstitutional


Yesterday, 28 May 2002, the Knesset House Committee voted 12 to 5 in favor of restricting MK Dr. Ahmed Tibi's freedom of movement for the remainder of his term as a Member of Knesset. The Knesset Assembly must approve the recommendation before it can take effect. 

The restriction on MK Dr. Tibi's movement was proposed by Likud MK Michael Eitan. MK Eitan claimed that MK Dr. Tibi works to promote the interests of Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat and Palestinian residents of the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs), in conflict with his role as a member of the Israeli Knesset. MK Eitan also cited statements made by MK Dr. Tibi against the Israeli army's April 2002 invasion of the Jenin refugee camp, and his participation in demonstrations challenging the military ban on entry into the OPTs. 

Adalah Staff Attorney Marwan Dalal sent a letter to Knesset House Committee Chair Avraham Burg immediately following the vote yesterday, with copies sent to all MKs and to Attorney General Elyakim Rubenstein. The letter argued that the Committee's recommendation is unconstitutional and illegal under Israeli law, for the following reasons: 

  • MK Dr. Tibi's political statements and actions are consistent with the platform of his party, Ta'al - Arab Movement for Renewal, and with the performance of his duties as an MK. Accordingly, his statements and actions are protected under Article 1 of the Law of Immunity of MKs, Their Rights and Their Duties (1951). Such immunity can neither be lifted nor diminished in any way.
  • The recommendation to limit MK Dr. Tibi's movement threatens to punish him for his previous statements and actions, as opposed to preventing an imminent crime. This kind of punishment is explicitly prohibited by the Supreme Court's ruling in H.C. 620/85, Mi'ari v. The Chairperson of the Knesset (1985).
  • The Knesset House Committee's recommendation is unconstitutional, as insufficient facts were presented to demonstrate a need to limit MK Tibi's right of movement, and the "near probability test" for harming any protected interest was not met.