"The Attorney General must instruct an investigation into Members of Knesset who have, or are suspected of having broken the law, and any such criminal investigation should be conducted thoroughly following the removal of parliamentary immunity."
(Communicated by the President’s Spokesperson)
President Reuven Rivlin, speaking at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem (14 February 2016), spoke in reference to the recently proposed ‘MK Suspension Law’, and said that it was an example of a problematic understanding of parliamentary democracy.
He said, "The President and the Speaker of the Knesset are chosen by the Knesset, which also has the power to dismiss them, but unlike that relating to the President, the law to depose a Member of Knesset oversteps the reality that the Knesset is representative of the sovereign, not the sovereign itself, and places the elected above the public. The Attorney General must instruct an investigation into Members of Knesset who have, or are suspected of having broken the law, and any such criminal investigation should be conducted thoroughly following the removal of parliamentary immunity. And yet, we cannot allow the Knesset, whose representatives are chosen by the public, to independently overturn the public’s choices.
A Knesset that is able, even if justly, to today decide upon the cessation of the office of such representatives of the public, will tomorrow, unjustly do so to others, and then where will we be? And those sitting here today at the Begin Center will remember well the days "without Herut and Maki" (referencing Ben-Gurion’s words during disputes with leaders of the right wing Herut party, and Maki, the Communist Party of Israel). The Knesset cannot be allowed, as a legislative body to become judge and jury. Such a situation will over time, overstep and undermine its purpose, and the sole victim will be the State of Israel."
The President condemned the activity of the Members of Knesset who visited terrorists’ families, and stressed the duty of the Attorney General to address the issue. He said, "When three Members of Knesset decide to visit the families of terrorists, to spit in the faces of the citizens of Israel, in the faces of the families of the victims, in the faces of all those working to rebuild trust between the Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel – it is not only the right of the Attorney General to instruct an investigation of the facts, it is his duty to do so."
The President added, "At the same time, even if it is appropriate that they stand trial, Heaven help us if the Knesset would be the one to sit in judgment. As such, it is the task of the liberal right to shape, within the right camp, a fresh alternative, decisive and cutting to the narrow version of democracy. This is an ideological and educational struggle, yet one that must take place also in practice. If the liberal right will succeed in this mission, as it has succeeded in the past, it will reward the State of Israel with an invaluable gift – a government that is not only of the people, but a liberal democracy which will be of the people, and at the same time, respect the individual."