Arab-Israeli MK to be indicted for smuggling phones to Palestinian prisoners
Ahmad Gharabli (AFP/File)
Israel's Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit on Thursday decided to formally indict Arab-Israeli lawmaker Basel Ghattas over accusations that he smuggled mobile phones, SIM cards, and documents to Palestinian security prisoners.
The indictment will be filed and a statement detailing the charges released later Thursday, according to Israeli media reports.
Ghattas, a lawmaker with the Balad faction of the Joint (Arab) List party, faces charges of conspiracy to commit a crime, fraud, breach of trust, and violating Israel Prison Service ordinances.
Police said last month that 12 mobile phones were found on two separate prisoners in searches after Ghattas visited.
One of the prisoners is serving time for the kidnapping and murder of an Israeli soldier in 1984, news site Ynet reported.
Ghattas was questioned by police over the allegations and placed under house arrest after voluntarily giving up his immunity.
A parliamentary ethics committee earlier in the week voted 3-1 to eject Ghattas from plenary sessions and debates until July. Ghattas will retain his right to vote on legislation in the Knesset's plenary and will continue to receive a government salary, however, so long as he remains lawmaker.
Ghattas has denied the accusations against him, suggesting that his Balad party is being deliberately targeted by the Israeli authorities.
Balad is especially critical of Israeli policies and one of its members of parliament, Haneen Zoabi, has frequently angered Israeli officials.
The party has denounced the investigation as a further attempt to smear it.
Balad's three parliamentarians triggered outrage among Jewish Israelis earlier this year when they met relatives of Palestinians who authorities say were killed while carrying out attacks.
The Joint List holds 13 of the 120 seats in parliament, of which three are held by Balad, and is the third largest bloc in the legislature.
Arab Israelis make up some 17.5 percent of the country's population, and are descended from Palestinians who remained on their land after the creation of Israel in 1948.
They hold Israeli citizenship, but largely see themselves as Palestinians.
(Staff with agencies)
You need to be logged in in order to post comments. Sign up or log in
Remove him from government. Remove his family from Israel. Traitor