Former MK Ghattas Enters Prison Over Phone-Smuggling Charges

YERUSHALAYIM -
Joint Arab List MK Basel Ghattas. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Former MK Basel Ghattas (United Arab List) is set to begin serving a prison sentence of two years Sunday, after being convicted of smuggling cellphones and communication devices into a high-security prison, for the benefit of Hamas terrorists.

Ghattas confessed to bringing the devices into the prison, and arranged for a plea deal. Until now he has been under house arrest. On Saturday night, Ghattas said at a rally for his benefit attended by hundreds, including all members of the United Arab List, that he was “the son of a persecuted nation whose homeland was stolen from it,” and that he would emerge from prison “stronger than ever.”

Ghattas has maintained 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.” Transport 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 enable 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.”