Middle East

Arab MK to serve 2 years in jail following plea bargain

Israel accuses MK Basel Ghattas of smuggling cell phones to jailed Hamas members

17.03.2017
Arab MK to serve 2 years in jail following plea bargain

JERUSALEM

An Arab member of the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) on Thursday night agreed to give up his assembly seat and serve two years in jail as part of a plea bargain, Israeli media has reported.

The Israeli authorities accuse MK Basel Ghattas of smuggling cell phones to imprisoned Hamas members.

According to Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, Ghattas signed a plea deal -- following lengthy negotiations between his lawyers and the Israeli state prosecutor's office -- under which he would serve two years behind bars.

“A formal indictment will be filed against Ghattas next Sunday,” the paper reported. “Afterwards, he will resign from the Knesset with immediate effect.”

Ghattas, for his part, confirmed that he had consented to the arrangement.

“What I did was motivated by my conscience and humanitarian feelings towards the prisoners,” he said in a statement. “I am prepared to take full responsibility.”

He added that the plea bargain arrangement would include different charges than those filed with the Knesset in January by Israeli Attorney-General Avichai Mendelblit.

“The serious security accusations were omitted from the new indictment,” he said in the statement.

Last December, Israeli police interrogated Ghattas -- after he voluntarily surrendered his parliamentary immunity -- over allegations that he had smuggled cell phones to Palestinian political prisoners held in Israel’s Ktzi'ot Prison.

Police had also slapped Ghattas with a travel ban until investigations were concluded.

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