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Bill to Shut Down Dimona nuclear reactor tabled
Hadash-Ta'al MKs say safety hazard prompted them to take action.

by Arik Bender
March 15, 2004

MK Eldad: 'Hadash is what needs to be shut down.'

Hadash-Ta'al, an Israeli Arab Knesset faction, is to propose an unusual bill on Wednesday - to shut down Israel's nuclear reactor in Dimona.

MK Issam Makhoul first initiated the bill, and was later joined by MKs Mohammad Barakeh and Ahmad Tibi. According to the three law-makers, "The information and research that has so far accumulated is that the life expectancy of a nuclear reactor is about 40 years, after which the number of malfunctions rises sharply turning the radioactive materials into an environmental hazard that poses a threat to the region". The MKs added, "The blanket of secretiveness that has surrounded the reactor till now has prevented non-governmental supervision which in turn prevented the public and the Knesset from estimating the real dangers of the reactor".

The Hadash-Ta'al members claim that some of the information recently exposed, raises concerns that the reactor is a health hazard for its workers. They also point their fingers at the articles published by international media, which clearly indicate the reactor poses a threat to the region.

This isn't the first time MK Makhoul has stirred controversy surrounding nuclear-related issues. He is one of the leading operatives working for the benefit of nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu. In addition, Makhoul has demonstrated near the nuclear site in the past.

MKs from across the political spectrum lashed out against the proposed bill and its initiators. Ehud Yatom (Likud) said, "I suggest that proposed bills concerning matters of state security be tabled by people who actually care about state security and not by those who attempt, time and time again, to seek ways to harm it".

According to MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union), "I recommend to Israel's Nuclear Energy Commission to file a petition with the High Court of Justice and demand that Hadash be shut down".

The criticism of the proposed bill was also heard from left-wing benches. MK Avshalom Vilan (Meretz) said, "Bills of this nature are inadequate. They do not belong in the legislature. The public debate on the Dimona plant should be conducted on the public sphere. The Hadash-Ta'al faction is attacking the subject of the reactor not because of its safety hazards but for other reasons".

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