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January 23, 2017 / 25 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Azmi Bishara’

Arab MK Gives Up Immunity as Police Reveal How He Got Caught

Thursday, December 22nd, 2016

MK Basel Ghattas (Joint Arab List) on Wednesday sent the Knesset Committee a letter announcing he was giving up his lawmaker’s immunity from searches and prosecution. The Nazareth born, Christian Ghattas acted following a unanimous vote by the committee to recommend that the House remove his immunity, possibly as early as Thursday. Ghattas is suspected of passing contraband cellular phones and information to security prisoners.

At this point, MK Ghattas is probably aware that police have the goods on him: during his initial interrogation, he was shown video documenting clearly how he passed the phones and the documents to Arab terrorists behind bars. According to unofficial police reports, Ghattas was stunned, and was unable to come up with a consistent explanation to his actions onscreen.

Sources close to Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan revealed to Israel’s Channel 2 News how Ghattas was caught red-handed. In recent months, according to those sources, Arab MK were not allowed to visit security prisoners. The sole exception was MK Ghattas, who continued to receive permits for those visits. Apparently, police and the prisons authority had been informed about his pattern of violations, and so they signaled the minister to lend the MK a long rope for his own hanging. The rest was just a matter of security cameras doing their job.

Ghattas had originally request an opportunity to face the Knesset committee, and planned to accuse it of conducting a political witch hunt. His letter to Committee Chair MK Yoav Kisch (Likud) stated, “This is an unreasonable process by which a hearing is set before reception of the request and without a proper opportunity and reasonable time to study it. […] from the start of this episode police and law enforcement authorities have been stepping on my rights and preventing me from having my dignified due process. The debate you will be conducting today is nothing more than political, with a predictable outcome.”

Ghattas’ cousin, disgraced former MK Azmi Bishara, in 2006 was the subject of an Israeli criminal investigation, for money laundering, contact with a foreign agent, delivery of information to the enemy and aiding the enemy in wartime. After Bishara had been stripped of his parliamentary immunity, he fled Israel and has not returned since.

David Israel

Israeli Arab MK Basel Ghattas Admits to Giving Cell Phones to Jailed Terrorist Inmates

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

An Israeli Arab lawmakers has admitted to smuggling coded information and miniature cell phones to Palestinian Authority Arab prisoners held on security offenses in an Israeli prison.

Balad Knesset Member Basel Ghattas of the Joint Arab List faction admitted under questioning by the Israel Police special investigative Lahav 433 unit on Tuesday to giving cell phones to incarcerated Arab terrorists in an Israeli prison.

Ghattas is accused of smuggling miniature phones and coded intelligence information to Palestinian Authority Arab prisoners convicted for carrying out terrorist attacks who are incarcerated at Ketziot Prison, south of Be’er Sheva.

First reported by Israel’s Channel 2 television news, the admission by Ghattas came after police showed the lawmaker video footage of him actually delivering the messages and the phones during a visit Sunday with two inmates who are members of the Palestinian Authority’s leading Fatah faction. One of the two is serving a 37-year sentence for murder.

When the accusations were initially made by police, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan on Tuesday proposed a measure – recommended to him by the Shin Bet domestic intelligence agency – to ban Knesset members altogether from visiting security prisoners. The bill was immediately approved Tuesday by the Knesset House Committee. The ban applies to prisoners held on security offenses, be they citizens of Israel or the Palestinian Authority, Jewish, Christian or Muslim. Ghattas told journalists following questioning with police that the “prisoners issue” was “unbearably painful.” He characterized his visits to the jailed terrorists as “humanitarian and moral activism.”

The lawmaker said the prisoners, all of whom are convicted terrorists are “suffering under difficult conditions, and this issue is part of my public and parliamentary work, which I am carrying out responsibly. I have nothing to hide. We are entering and leaving these interrogations with our heads held high,” he added, saying, “In the end it will turn out they have made a mountain out of a molehill.”

But Erdan doesn’t see it that way. In an interview with Israel Army Radio, he pointed out that Ghattas has honored murderers in the past. “This is a member of Knesset who just three-four months ago held a moment of silence in memory of murderers in the recent terror wave in Jerusalem, who joins flotillas that identify with Gaza, who calls [late former President] Shimon Peres the ‘greatest of war criminals,’ who sneaks onto the Temple Mount just to provoke. It won’t be such a disaster if he isn’t in the Knesset — even if he isn’t convicted.”

Meanwhile, Israel Police said Monday that they have instructed officials at all Israeli border crossings to prevent Ghattas from leaving the country – as a previous member of his political party did to escape justice. (Former Balad Knesset Member Azmi Bishara, who fled Israel in 2007 after being accused of aiding Hezbollah terrorists, formally turned in his resignation from the parliament of the Jewish State and the Israeli Embassy in Cairo.)

The move to block Ghattas from fleeing followed a debate on the suspicions into the lawmaker’s behavior at the Knesset Committee, chaired Knesset Member Yoav Kish (Likud.) Kish said Ghattas belongs in jail, not the Knesset.

Kish’s party faction colleague, MK Ze’ev Elkin, said he has started gathering signatures to remove Ghattas from the Knesset under the terms of a new law that gives Knesset Members the right to vote a legislator out of office for incitement to racism, or for supporting armed conflict against the State of Israel.

“We are starting to gather signatures in order to put an end to the phenomenon of MKs supporting terrorism,” Elkin wrote on Twitter. “Let’s put an end to MKs using their parliamentary immunity for aiding terrorists.”

The measure became law last July. It requires the support of at least 90 MKs, 10 of whom are members of the Opposition, to expel a Knesset Member.

MK Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) said, “The news about MK Ghattas is extremely serious. If it becomes clear that he is guilty of the crimes he is accused of, he must be brought to justice. It is inconceivable that an MK will commit subterfuge against the State of Israel and its citizens.”

Andrew Friedman and TPS contributed content to this report.

Hana Levi Julian

Police Summon Arab MK Ghattas on Suspicion of Security Violations

Sunday, December 18th, 2016

Israel Police will summon Joint Arab List MK Basel Ghattas for an interrogation on suspicion of security violations, based on information received by the special investigations unit Lahav 433, from the Prisons Authority, Haaretz reported Sunday evening. Apparently, MK Ghattas maintained ties with one or more security prisoners, which raised suspicions that he, too, was involved in state security violations.

According to the current report, there is no connection between this and the recent investigation into the Arab Balad party. However, investigators plan to check a possible connection between monies transferred to security prisoners by Balad and the lawmaker’s talks with security prisoners.

The Balad party on Sunday morning revealed that party politburo member Nibin Abu Rahmoun has also been interrogated by police.

Ghattas announced he would negotiate a time for his police interrogation, calling the police behavior “vengeful” and declaring he wasn’t afraid of such moved in the past and won’t be in the future.

The Ghattas interrogation follows the interrogation of his two colleague MKs in the Balad segment of the Joint Arab List, Jamal Zahalka and Hanin Zoabi. The interrogations of this highest echelon of Arab politicians come in the wake of sweeping arrests of Balad rank and file members, including former Balad Gen. Sec. and current President Awad Abdel Fattah and senior civil servants and attorneys.

The widespread investigation began a few months ago and deals with financial irregularities and suspicion of money laundering and document forgery during two campaigns in 2013 – one for the Knesset, the other for local municipalities.

Former Balad MK Azmi Bishara in April 2007 resigned from the Knesset through the Israeli Embassy in Cairo, following Israeli police investigation into his foreign contacts, and accusations of allegedly aiding the enemy in wartime, passing information to the enemy and having contacts with a foreign agent, as well as laundering money received from foreign sources. Bishara denied the allegations, and said he was staying abroad because he believes he wouldn’t receive a fair trial.


Ex-MK, Accused Spy for Hezbollah, Got A Visa to Speak in Washington DC

Sunday, October 9th, 2016

Former head of the Israeli Arab Balad party and a fugitive from Israeli justice, ex-Knesset member Azmi Bishara has somehow been granted an American visa in time to speak next week in Washington DC.

Bishara was accused by the Shin Bet domestic intelligence agency of aiding and abetting the Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorist organization plot terrorist operations against Israel.

According to a report published last week by the Washington Free Beacon, Bishara is scheduled to speak this coming weekend at a conference in the downtown Marriott hotel organized by The Arab Center of Washington DC, entitled “Democracy in the Arab World: The Obama Legacy & Beyond.” The conference is hosted in partnership with the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies.

The State Department reportedly declined to confirm whether it had granted a visa to Bishara, who has lived in Qatar since fleeing Israel in 2007, and whose image as a scheduled speaker still appears on the website of the conference. Bishara escaped just hours after he was accused of passing information to Lebanon-based Hezbollah agents and recommending Israeli targets to the Iranian-backed terrorist group in 2006 during the Second Lebanon War. He fled just prior to being arrested by police on charges of spying and aiding the enemy in wartime.

Israel is still holding a warrant for Bishara’s arrest. If tried and convicted Bishara could face life in prison. Since Qatar is not currently a participant in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program it is not clear how Bishara, a wanted fugitive from a U.S. ally, was able to enter the United States.

“We are unable to provide information on individual cases because visa records are confidential under U.S. law,” an official told the Free Beacon. “Visa applications are adjudicated on a case-by-case basis in accordance with U.S. law.” In addition, the source told the Free Beacon, “Section 222 (f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) prohibits us from disclosing details from individual visa cases.”

Bishara is slated to deliver the keynote address, “A Framework for Democracy in the Arab World.” He is listed as the “General Director, Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies (ACRPS), Qatar.” Attending the same conference from the ACRPS is “Associate Researcher” Marwan Kabalan, a panelist speaking on the “Future Outlook and Recommended US Policies regarding Democracy in the Arab World.”

Kabalan is a Syrian academic and writer who has been a visiting professor in the College of Law at Qatar University, and has written for the Qatar Tribune. He is a recognized writer and expert on Syria, with a PhD in International Relations. In 2012, Kalaban was the Dean of Faculty of International Relations and Diplomacy at the University of Kalamoon, Damascus.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, originally scheduled to speak at the event on promotion of democracy in the Arab world, has reportedly canceled his plans to appear.

Hana Levi Julian

Arab Primary Voters Dump Terror-Supporting MKs Zoabi, Ghattas

Friday, June 17th, 2016

MK Hanin Zoabi, whose National Democratic Assembly (Balad) party is one of the three partner factions making up the Joint Arab List, has been the most frequent candidate for removal both from the elections list and, as MK, from the plenum, as well as defendant in court, all owing to her vicious attacks on Israeli values and on Israeli public officials—including, most recently, cursing out and spitting on Arab police. Now, all who trust in the wisdom of the voters are entitled to a big high-five, as Zoabi has been pushed in the primaries for her faction’s list of Knesset candidates down to spot number 9, well outside the realistic expectations for the 21st Knesset, Makor Rishon reported Friday.

The Joint Arab List, which has one Jewish MK, is a new political creature, a coalition made up of four different parties whose only common denominator is the fact that they are Arab and appeal to the Arab Israeli voter. Hadash, the United Arab List, Balad, and Ta’al, which make up the third largest faction in the 20th Knesset, were, essentially, the brain child of then Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, who pushed for a higher vote threshold, requiring that a list gain close to four seats before it can claim any of its seats. Realizing that the new rule could wipe out the bulk of the Arab representation in the Knesset, the four parties, with communists, business leaders, ultra-nationalists and religious zealots, found a way to unite in order to stay alive. Ironically, Liberman’s own party, Yisrael Beiteinu, barely made it past the same threshold.

With the four factions sharing the 13 seats they were granted by the voter, it is unlikely for any one of them to get more than three or four MKs, so that Zoabi’s failure to get enough votes for the third or fourth spot in her faction means a resounding demotion by her party members.

But Zoabi did relatively well compared with her fellow Balad MK Basel Ghattas, who shared with her a much slammed ceremony honoring the families of Jerusalem terrorists who had died while murdering Jews. Ghattas was dropped to the 23rd spot, which is political death in the reality of Arab politics.

Another demoted Balad leader, also member of the honor guard to the killers, is Jamal Zahalka, who landed the fifth spot, which would only get him a seat should the Joint Arab List pick up between 18 and 20 mandates, a feat that would necessarily require direct involvement from Mohammed himself, if not an even higher authority.

Anonymous members of the Joint List told Makor Rishon they were pleased with the choices of Balad voters, who replaced their fanatical leaders with seemingly more pragmatic ones, including a woman, Nibin Abu Rahmoun, at the top of the list. The latest choices could revitalize the Balad faction as well as the entire Knesset list, possibly attracting one or two additional seats.

With MK Ghattas’ resounding defeat Balad voters have severed their ties to his uncle, former MK Azmi Bishara, who back in 2007 resigned from the Knesset through the Israeli Embassy in Cairo, following police investigation into his treasonous activities, aiding the enemy during wartime, passing information on to the enemy and contacts with a foreign agent, as well as laundering money received from foreign sources. With that shameful legacy out of the way, the new faces in Balad could devote themselves to improving the quality of life for Israeli Arabs.

David Israel

No Apartheid Here

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

Arab Israeli MK Basel Ghattas (Balad) wears a keffiyeh around his neck as he addresses the Israeli Knesset on November 12, 2014.

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said that if he (Yuli) can wear a Kipa, then surely Ghattas can wear a keffiyeh in the Knesset.

Of course the difference is that keffiyeh has since taken on political connotations, while the kipa remains primarily a religious/social symbol.

Ghattas, a Christian Arab, holds a PhD in environmental engineering from the Technion University in Haifa, and was the founder of the Balad party along with his cousin, Azmi Bishara.

Bishara fled Israel in 2007 after security forces accused him of passing information to the enemy (Hezbollah) during war.

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Knesset Upholds Suspension of Balad MK Zoabi

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

Israeli lawmakers across the spectrum voted 68-16 Wednesday to uphold a six-month ban imposed in July against Balad MK Hanin Zoabi on all legislative activity except voting.

Zoabi tried to appeal the ban on Wednesday, three months after being suspended by the Knesset Ethics Committee for incitement.

Numerous lawmakers – including Speaker Yuli Edelstein – filed complaints with the Committee about Zoabi’s support for Hamas rocket attacks against the State of Israel during Operation Protective Edge, and her statement that the Hamas abduction and murder of three Israeli yeshiva teens was not terrorism.

Zoabi has since traveled to Qatar – an enemy state which supports Hamas and its founding entity, the Muslim Brotherhood – and met with Balad party founder, former MK Azmi Bishara.

Bishara fled Israel as he was being investigated possible acts of espionage on behalf of Lebanon’s Hezbollah terror organization during the 2006 Second Lebanon War.

In 2010, Zoabi also participated in the illegal flotilla attempt to breach Israel’s maritime blockade of Gaza, by joining terror activists from Turkey aboard the IHH-sponsored Mavi Marmara vessel. The flotilla was stopped by the IDF in international waters.

The following year she was banned from the Knesset for two months after physically attacking an usher for trying to remove her from the hall when she refused to go when ordered to do so.

The Israeli Arab lawmaker, who has consistently maintained a position as a representative of the Palestinian Authority Arab population – rather than that of an Arab Israeli – insisted in her appeal that she had the right to free speech.

“I speak to you as someone proud of being a daughter of this land,” Zoabi began. “There was not, and there will not be a person who can turn me, or my nation, into guests or strangers here.”

Zoabi said she knew it is hard for some Mks to hear her express her views or even to see her walk through the halls of the Knesset. But, she said, it is equally hard for her to see Arabs treated as the enemy.

The real issue, she said, is the difference in perspective: “You are annoyed that I use the words ‘occupation and war crimes” but it is the actual occupation and war crimes that trouble me the most.”

She was interrupted by an agitated Labor MK, Itzik Shmueli, who shouted that she crossed the line in speaking in such a way about Israeli soldiers, freedom of speech notwithstanding.

Shmueli, who refused to quiet down, was removed from the Knesset hall by Speaker Yuli Edelstein.

Further pushing the point, Zoabi added, “Yes, I crossed the lines of consensus – a warlike, aggressive, racist, populist, chauvinist, arrogant consensus.

“I must cross those lines. I am no Zionist, and that is within my legal right.

“I am a Palestinian, born in this land. Any person who supports the decision of the committee [against me] is against justice, equality and freedom of speech, and supports political persecution.

“Whoever stands silent joins the racists who do not want representation for the Arabs!”

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/knesset-upholds-suspension-of-balad-mk-zoabi/2014/10/29/

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