Three Arab MKs were accused on Wednesday of making an unauthorized trip to Qatar sponsored by the former MK Azmi Bishara, a suspected traitor.
The Knesset Ethics Committee will examine the charge that Balad MKs Jamal Zahalka, Haneen Zoabi and Bassel Ghattas visited the Arab state at the expense of The Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies in Doha, which is run by Bishara, without the required prior approval of the Knesset.
Bishara reportedly is close to the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, a key Hamas backer.
The Arab MKs pleaded “technical reasons” for not obtaining clearance for the visit.
“The Policy Research Center in Doha funded a trip, and I was on my way home,” said MK Ghattas. “It was impossible for me to report to the Ethics Committee before the trip, and this is for technical reasons, as I needed to procure a State of Qatar visa, which was delayed until the last minute.”
The MKs may have a hard time persuading their colleagues that the visit was of an innocent nature.
On Tuesday night, MK Yifat Kariv (Yesh Atid) declared, “Now it’s proven, as I claimed a month ago, that Azmi Bishara, who was recognized as a traitor, continues to act in the state of Israel.
“Bishara is managing, leading and funding the three MKs from Balad. There must be a swift investigation by the Attorney-General,” she added.
Zahalka dismissed any wrongdoing in associating with Bishara. He said that Balad MKs “met with him dozens of times in the past, as well as this time. Bishara is our friend and naturally we meet with him and talk to him.”
On Tuesday, police recommended that Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein indict Zoabi for inciting against, threatening and insulting a public servant following an incident in July in which she called Israeli-Arab police officers traitors, implied threats against them and told a protesting crowd to spit in their faces.
Last month, the Ethics Committee banned Zoabi from all parliamentary activity except voting for six months following comments she made supporting Hamas attacks on Israel.