Photo Credit: Koko/POOL
Basel Ghattas in court for a remand, December 26, 2016.

The Knesset Committee on Tuesday morning began a debate on the proposed removal of MK Basel Ghattas (Joint Arab List) for smuggling phones to security prisoners in Israeli jails.

Deputy AG Ran Nazri told the committee that “Ghattas has until Thursday to announce whether or not he plans to sign a plea deal.” Nazri explained that the deal would have to include a criminal indictment, according to the law on the fight against terrorism. The deal would also require the disgraced MK’s resignation from the Knesset, a significant jail term and a fine.


According to Nazri, a Ghattas conviction would be considered a “disgraceful crime,” which would prevent him from seeking public office for seven years.

The Tuesday debate, sponsored by 71 MKs, is the first of its kind against a sitting legislator. The committee hall was packed with media crews and security personnel. A large contingency of Joint Arab List MKs was present, save for MK Ghattas himself, and MK Osama Sa’adi who was removed for disturbing the peace.

The debate opened with vivacious exchanges between the Arab Mks and Mk Oren Hazan (Likud), who yelled at the former: “Finally we’re getting rid of terrorists around here, sit quietly. It’s improper for you to be MKs over here.”

MK Yoav Kisch (Likud), who signed the removal initiative, told the committee: “It still remains to be seen what was the significance of [Ghattas’] actions.” He added that the removal law was enacted as a result of the “wave of extremism, [to prevent], among other things, support for a flotilla intended to harm IDF soldiers, maintaining contacts with an enemy state, and standing at attention in honor of terrorists with blood on their hands.”

Most of the Joint Arab List MKs have been culprits in one or more of the above violations.

The Knesset legal counsel Eyal Yinon told the committee that “should the committee decide not to embrace the request for removal, its decision would be final and the legal move concluded. Should the committee approve the request for removal, it would be sent to the plenum, where a 90-vote approval would be required to dismiss the MK.”

Yinon added that Ghattas is also on trial for his alleged security violations, and should he be convicted he might automatically lose his Knesset seat – even if the AG decided not to try him for the terror-related accusations against him.

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