Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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21 Adar I 5765 - March 2, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network











House Committee Expected to Uphold Gorlovsky's Immunity

By Eliezer Rauchberger

The majority of Knesset House Committee members are expected to vote again in support of the decision not to strip MK Michael Gorlovsky (Likud) of his immunity in the double voting scandal in spite of a High Court ruling against the committee's previous decision not to take away Gorlovsky's immunity.

In an unusual ruling the High Court annulled a decision by the Knesset House Committee to uphold Gorlovsky's immunity as a member of Knesset. The seven High Court judges hearing the case voted unanimously in favor of the petition by the Movement for Quality Government.

During the 2003 budget debates Gorlovsky voted twice, once in his own name and a second time in place of an MK not present at the plenum session. He admitted to voting twice but said he did so innocently, claiming that as a new MK he was not familiar with all the regulations.

Gorlovsky was not the only MK to vote twice. Yechiel Chazan, also of the Likud, did the same. The House Committee took away his immunity after he announced he wanted to prove his innocence in court. The trial is now under way.

In the previous vote, 11 committee members opposed the Attorney General's request to rescind Gorlovsky's immunity, six voted in favor and one abstained. The opponents were Bar On, A. Yatom, Gavrielli, Edelstein, Aflalo and Benlulu from the Likud, Zeev and Cohen from Shas, David Tal from Am Echad, Eliezer Cohen from HaIchud HaLeumi and Rabbi Porush from Agudas Yisroel.

Voting in favor were Itzik, D. Yatom and Simchon from Labor, Brizon and Chen from Shinui and Gal'on from Yachad. The Likud's Gidon Saar abstained.

An inquiry among the committee members showed the majority of the "no" voters do not intend to change their vote if the committee is asked to vote on the issue a second time. Even if some of the opponents decide to vote in favor this time a majority of committee members still oppose revoking Gorlovsky's immunity.

Constitution Committee Chairman Michael Eitan reacted harshly to the High Court's decision to intervene. "I am concerned the High Court has joined the de-legitimatization campaign against the Knesset. This is a stepping up of the judicial activism against the Knesset and I am very worried it will lead to a serious clash that could bring serious consequences and a far-reaching conflict between constituencies. The Knesset will not allow the High Court to annul us because this would annul democracy. This is a very dangerous move," said Eitan.

"If there is no alternative and the High Court continues to act against the Knesset the Knesset will be forced to pass legislation restricting the High Court's power," he added, calling on the House Committee not to strip Gorlovsky's immunity and saying he would be willing to stand in for any committee member from the Likud who wants to avoid voting on the issue.

On the other hand Knesset Chairman Reuven Rivlin, who is generally highly critical of the High Court, backed the court's decision this time. "Anyone who sees in this issue before us a dispute with the High Court is playing into the hands of the Knesset's vilifiers. There is no dispute here, for this is a different issue." Originally Rivlin even voiced criticism of the committee's decision.

The House Committee's legal advisor said the MKs must reevaluate the considerations behind the Attorney General's request to remove Gorlovsky's immunity in order to hold a trial for voting twice and if they conclude the Attorney General's request is unjustified they can again vote against removing Gorlovsky's immunity despite the High Court ruling on the matter.


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