Representing Arab MK Mohammed Barakeh on a Criminal Indictment Charging him with Four Alleged Offences of Assaulting or Insulting Police Officers Resulting from his Participation in anti-Wall and anti-War Demonstrations between 2005 and 2007

Tel Aviv Magistrate Court, Criminal File 12318-12/09 State of Israel v. Mohammed Barakeh

The trial began on 18 April 2012 at the Tel Aviv Magistrates' Court.

On 26 October 2011, the Tel Aviv Magistrates' Court issued a decision dismissing two of four charges filed against Arab MK Mohammed Barakeh, Chair of the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality (Jabha / Hadash) political party, on the ground that they fall within his basic parliamentary immunity. The decision followed a motion filed by Adalah. The first cancelled charge was allegedly "insulting a public servant" (police) during a demonstration against the Second Lebanon War in July 2006. The second was obstructing the work of a police officer during a demonstration in Nazareth, at which the families of the October 2000 victims protested against the decision to close the investigations into the deaths of 13 Arab citizens of Israel.

MK Barakeh's legal defense team – Adalah Attorneys Hassan Jabareen and Orna Kohn – emphasized that the dismissal of the two charges occurred during the preliminary proceedings in the case, i.e. before examination of the substance of the charges against him. This fact shows that the indictment is weak, flimsy and should be dismissed in full. The court scheduled a new hearing date in April 2012 to hear the remaining two charges on the indictment sheet, which MK Barakeh rejects in full.

According to one of the remaining charges, MK Barakeh assaulted a border policeman in May 2005 during a demonstration at the West Bank village of Bi'lin against Israel's Separation Wall. During this demonstration, MK Barakeh was hit in the thigh by a sound bomb that was thrown in his direction. The prosecution alleges that MK Barakeh grabbed the throat of the border policeman to prevent the arrest of a Palestinian youth.

The second of the two remaining charges dates back to July 2006, when the prosecution alleges that MK Barakeh assaulted a right-wing activist during another demonstration against the Second Lebanon War. This right-wing activist attempted to assault peace activist Uri Avnery, who was eighty-years-old at the time, as well as Tamar Gozansky, a member of the politburo of the Israeli communist party. MK Barakeh merely attempted to fend the activist off them.

The court's decision followed a hearing held on 18 September 2010, when Adalah Attorneys Hassan Jabareen and Orna Kohn presented a series of examples in which indictments were not filed against MKs, or in which MKs relied on their parliamentary immunity despite the far more serious nature of these cases.

Attorney Hassan Jabareen, General Director of Adalah, brought a series of cases before the court in which the Attorney General's (AG's) Office has refrained from issuing indictments against right-wing MKs in cases of assault against Israeli police and security officers, or in which the courts decided that the MKs were protected by parliamentary immunity for such actions.

One of the cases cited by Attorney Jabareen dates back to the mid-1990s, when former MK Gutman, from the pro-transfer Moledet political party, prevented the arrest of a right-wing activist who was demonstrating in favor of settlers in Hebron. Gutman used a stick to assault Israeli soldiers, grabbed handcuffs from a soldier and prevented the detainee from being handcuffed by the army. Gutman then handcuffed the detainee to his own hand and fled the scene with her.

In another case, settler MK Arieh Eldad prevented an army bulldozer from demolishing homes in the settler outpost of Amona. A solider then approached MK Eldad, who raised his hands and was led aside. Not only did the AG's Office not press charges against Elad for obstructing the work of the soldiers, but Eldad also brought a case against the soldier, the details of which confirmed the events detailed above.

Attorney Jabareen then quoted from a series of decisions issued by various levels of courts over the years – magistrates, district and Supreme Court – as well as decisions made by the Knesset's Ethics Committee. In these decisions MKs were exonerated in complaints filed against them for "insulting a public servant" or for making public statements in contradiction of "state sovereignty," etc.

Case Citation: Tel Aviv Magistrate Court, Criminal File 12318-12/09, State of Israel v. Mohammed Barakeh

Adalah's motion re: parliamentary immunity (Hebrew)

The court's decision (Hebrew)