Knesset Members from the center and right voiced pleasure at MK Azmi Bishara's resignation from the Israeli parliament Sunday, a day ahead of the expiration of a gag order on a General Security Service (Shin Bet) investigation of his activities.
Knesset Member Bishara, head of the Arab Balad party, was investigated by police for a serious crime and fled the country. The gag order placed on the investigation was to expire Sunday evening, but the court extened it until this Wednesday at 11:30am.
Several Knesset Members said "Baruch sheptaranu…" (Blessed be G-d for ridding us of him) to express their feeling at the fact that Bishara will no longer be working alongside them.
MK Yuval Shteinitz (Likud), the former chairman of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said Israel should consider capturing Bishara in order to put him on trial.
MK Aryeh Eldad (NU/NRP) said that he has only praise for MK Bishara's decision. "I call upon all of Bishara's colleagues in the Arab parties to follow his example," Eldad added, "and rid the Israeli Knesset of the presence of those who collaborate with the country's enemies. I hope Bishara finds political asylum in Syria
'I hope Bishara finds political asylum in Syria or with his friends from Hizbullah.'
or with his friends from Hizbullah."
MK Otniel Schneller of the ruling Kadima party said: "Israel could not have hoped for a better present for its 59th birthday. From now on, let every Arab Knesset member know that whoever tramples on the country's security while hiding behind his immunity will end up behind bars."
Bishara's resignation leaves Israel's Knesset "cleaner", opined MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima). "I hope the other Arab MKs will not act as traitors like Bishara."
MK Avshalom Vilan of the leftist Meretz party expressed regret at the resignation, saying that the Knesset had lost one of its most brilliant parliamentarians.
MK Robert Ilatov of Yisrael Beiteinu says "the true face of Balad has been exposed to all, after its chairman resigned in Egypt, like a coward, instead of in Israel. A man should deal with the outcome of his deeds." MK Ilatov asked the police to finish the investigation into Bishara's case and try him in Israel urgently.
MK Gilad Erdan (Likud) also saw significance in the venue of Bishara's announcement. "The fact that Bishara resigned in Egypt proves conclusively that he never had any loyalty to the state of Israel. If there are indeed criminal suspicions against him he should be treated like any other fugitive."
NRP Chairman MK Zevulun Orlev said "it is good that Bishara understood that he belongs in jail and not in the Knesset. The arms of the law need to catch him and try him." Orlev said he would soon be re-submitting a bill that would prevent people who visited enemy countries from serving in the Knesset. The bill was voted down in the past.
Baruch Marzel, head of the National Front (which did not make it into the Knesset), said it was shameful that Bishara resigned before he could be fired. "If we were a normal country," he said, "Bishara and his friends would not be sitting in the Knesset – they would be put on trial."