Report: Ghattas Set to Make Deal Over Phone-Smuggling Charges

YERUSHALAYIM -
Joint Arab List MK Basel Ghattas in court in December. (Yair Sagi/Pool)

Prosecutors are set to close a deal with MK Basel Ghattas (United Arab List), who is charged with smuggling cellphones and communication devices into a high-security prison, for the benefit of Hamas terrorists. According to the indictment, Ghattas smuggled 12 devices and 16 SIM cards into the prison for use by terrorists.

According to the Channel 10 report, Ghattas will confess to bringing the devices into the prison, and receive a prison sentence of up to three years. According to the report, prosecutors and the defense team have not settled on terms for a sentence. The deal is the result of a hearing held last week before State Attorney Avichai Mandelblit, in which attorneys for Ghattas sought a plea deal.

Ghattas has maintained, since he was placed under house arrest in December over the charges, that he is the victim of “political persecution. The police continue to try and break the spirit of my party, Balad. Police asked me to come in for questioning but that meeting has not yet taken place. Visits by MKs to security prisoners are done with the full cooperation of the Prisons Service and with the blessing of the Defense Ministry. I have nothing to hide, and I will continue to represent the Arab public with legitimate political activity.”

Ministers and MKs on the right have been unified in condemning Ghattas. Tourism Minister Yariv Levin said that Ghattas, along with other Balad MKs, “have for years crossed all red lines and expressed support for Israel’s enemies. They encourage and support terror, and call for boycotts of Israel.” Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz said that the “suspicions regarding Ghattas’s activities, in the ‘tradition’ of the activities of Zoabi and Azmi Bishara, who spied for Hezbollah, show how mistaken the High Court was to deny the Knesset the right to legislate a version of the Dismissal Bill that would have enabled us to act much more quickly and easily.”

Deputy Minister Ayoub Kara said that “Ghattas’s crimes require a revision of the rights and obligations of MKs. Cooperating with and helping terrorists can be defined in only one way — an attempt to harm Israel’s security.”