AG Mulls Indicting Hadash Lawmaker for Assaulting Cop

The State Prosecutor’s Office has informed a representative of Hadash lawmaker Ofer Cassif that the attorney general is considering prosecuting him for “assaulting a policeman under aggravated circumstances,” subject to a hearing. The decision was made with the consent of State Prosecutor Amit Aisman.

On last May, Cassif was attempting to reach a protest at Masafer Yatta — a Palestinian agriculture area near Hebron in the occupied West Bank. Israel’s top court ruled in favor of evicting over 1,000 Palestinians from their land. In the incident, police forces stopped Cassif as he was driving to the South Hebron Hills and he was blocked from entering the area with his vehicle, Cassif was filmed clashing with the police forces while shouting “who do you think you are? I’m a member of Knesset” toward the officers. Knesset members have parliamentary immunity, which allows them to travel almost everywhere in the country.

MK Cassif removed from the Constitution Law and Justice Committee judicial reform debate, March 1, 2023 (Photo: Knesset)

After the incident, Cassif defended his actions, claiming he overheard one of the police officers saying he will “shoot Cassif” if the MK doesn’t comply with police orders. “Today, we came to support the residents of Masafer Yatta who are facing the demolition of their homes and their expulsion from their land in light of the High Court ruling that denies international law,” said Cassif following the incident. “The police officers repeatedly violated my immunity during the silent procession and prevented me from moving freely. One of the policemen threatened me when he told his friends, ‘If [Cassif] continues, not only will I arrest him, I’ll shoot him.'”

On the same day, four buses and several cars with hundreds of Hadash and CPI activists, including Joint List lawmakers Ayman Odeh and Aida Touma-Sliman, were blocked on the way to the demonstration. The activists got off the bus and started protesting in place and they were attacked by settlers.

Cassif: A fascist coup 

A government-backed bill to prevent the High Court of Justice from having the power to suspend the prime minister from office was approved 62 to 20 in its preliminary reading in the Knesset on Wednesday. The bill’s advance follows a decision by the High Court last month to hear a petition demanding the court compel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to take a leave of absence from office, owing to his ostensible conflict of interests in presiding over far-reaching legal and judicial reforms while he is himself on trial for corruption.

MK Cassif denounced the bill, saying, “In a democracy, the regime is not above the law, all the more so for the ruler,” and claiming that denying the attorney general this tool was “part of the fascist coup, the overturning of the state to a full dictatorship.”

Earlier, a far-right government-backed bill to radically restrict the High Court of Justice’s ability to strike down unconstitutional legislation was approved in the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee and will now be sent for its first reading in the Knesset plenum, amid opposition outrage directed at committee chair MK Simcha Rothman (Religious Zionism) for his management of the process.

Opposition lawmakers boycotted the final votes in committee approving the bill for its first reading in the Knesset plenum. “This is a dictatorship and the silencing of people’s opinions; we won’t be part of it. Vote among yourselves” shouted Cassif at Rothman.