Former Israeli Knesset member Azmi Bishara, who is wanted by Israel on charges of spying for Hezbollah, has received a visa to visit the United States. He is to address a convention of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in the U.S.
Bishara was convicted of aiding Hezbollah in gathering intelligence that was used against Israel during the Second Lebanon War in 2006. He surreptitiously left the country before he could be detained, and has been wandering the Arab world for nearly a decade, attempting to evade Israeli agents who are determined to bring him back to serve his prison sentence. He most recently has been living in Qatar, where he works as a government assistant and a commentator on news programs.
The Shin Bet uncovered significant evidence against Bishara, who was assisting Hezbollah on locating attack targets during the Second Lebanon War. If he were to be brought to trial in Israel, Bishara would most likely be sentenced to life in prison on charges of aiding and abetting the enemy, contacting foreign agents and providing assistance to terror groups. He is also wanted on money-laundering charges over the money he received from Hezbollah for his assistance to the group.
Despite all this, Bishara is still receiving a pension from the Knesset, as a former Knesset member. Legislation was passed earlier this year to remove pensions and benefits from MKs who are convicted of violating national security, but as Bishara has not yet been tried or convicted, the law does not apply to him.