MK Dichter and Gilad Ach
MK Dichter and Gilad Achnone

A bill led by former Shin Bet (Shabak) chief MK Avi Dichter (Likud) seeking to ban contacts between Israeli organizations, citizens, security, and intelligence agencies of foreign policy existence, including the Palestinian Authority (PA), was approved Wednesday in a preliminary reading in the Knesset.

The bill was passed with the support of the government by a majority of 23 supporters against 2 opponents.

The proposed amendment to the Penal Code is intended to close a loophole in the law that is being used by the Palestinian Authority's intelligence and security to gather intelligence on and within Israel. On the one hand, due to the non-recognition of the Palestinian Authority as a state, and on the other hand due to its removal from the list of terrorist organizations, the Palestinian Authority is not included in the existing law.

According to the original purpose of the law, the offense of "contact with a foreign agent" is intended to prohibit the activity of providing confidential information or providing information that could endanger national security, to intelligence agents of foreign governments or terrorist organizations. In the current political reality, even organizations that are not considered a state under Israeli law, work to gather intelligence and operate agents in Israel.

The amendment is intended to change the definition in the law of "foreign agent" so that it also includes foreign policy entities that are not considered a state or a terrorist organization.

Among the signatories to the bill in the previous Knesset were members of the ministries committee for case law, Minister Matan Kahana (Yamina), and Knesset members Zvi Hauser and Sharren Haskel (New Hope), Minister Elazar Stern (Yesh Atid) and Eitan Ginzburg (Blue and White).

The current bill was signed by MKs Avi Dichter (Likud), Yoav Kisch (Likud), Yoav Ben Tzur (Shas), Michael Malkieli (Shas), Yuval Steinitz (Likud), Keren Barak (Likud), Orly Levi-Abekasis (Likud), Yakov Asher (United Torah Judaism), and Orit Strock (Religious Zionism).

Justice Minister Gideon Sa'ar (New Hope) said: "The bill will help against those who collect information. Because of this, we have decided to support this bill in a preliminary reading."

Former General Israeli Security chief, MK Avi Dichter said: "I welcome the decision of Committee ministers to support my bill to define a 'foreign agent.'"

"The prosecution of Israelis who cooperate or provide information to the PA or bodies hostile to Israel hiding behind a European or international screen is not a matter of left or right, but a national matter that must be uprooted.

"I thank the Ad Kan organization for raising the issue on the public agenda."

Gilad Ach, General Director of the Ad Kan organization, which exposes the activities of Palestinian Authority preventive security within the left-wing organizations and was one of the initiators of the bill, said: "This is not a question of right or left, but a question of whether the State of Israel is a country that wants life. The law must prohibit contact with Palestinian Authority intelligence threats. The legislative process must be completed soon."