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Ex-MK to begin 2-year jail sentence for smuggling phones to prisoners

Basel Ghattas accepted plea deal over aiding jailed Palestinian terrorists; won’t be able to return to Knesset for 7 years after release

Former Joint List Knesset member Basel Ghattas arrives for a court hearing at the Beersheba Magistrate's Court, April 9, 2017.  (Yehuda Peretz/POOL/Flash90)
Former Joint List Knesset member Basel Ghattas arrives for a court hearing at the Beersheba Magistrate's Court, April 9, 2017. (Yehuda Peretz/POOL/Flash90)

Former Joint (Arab) List lawmaker Basel Ghattas on Sunday was set to begin his two-year prison sentence for smuggling contraband to Palestinian security prisoners in an Israeli jail.

In April, the Beersheba Magistrate’s Court accepted the plea bargain reached between state prosecutors and Ghattas, who was convicted of exploiting his position to sneak cellphones and notes to convicted Palestinian terrorists.

After accepting the deal, the court handed down a two-year prison term to Ghattas, as well as 18 months probation and a NIS 120,000 ($33,000) fine.

He will be incarcerated at the Gilboa Prison.

Ghattas’s conviction was found to carry moral turpitude, meaning he will be barred from serving in the Knesset for seven years after completing his sentence.

Ghattas had to previously resign from the Knesset as part of the deal. He was replaced by fellow Balad Party member Juma Azbarga.

In March, Ghattas was convicted by the court after admitting to the smuggling phones into prison, smuggling documents and breach of trust.

Security camera footage showing MK Basel Ghattas, right, handing an envelope to an inmate in an Israeli prison. (Screen capture: Channel 10)
Security camera footage showing MK Basel Ghattas, right, handing an envelope to an inmate in an Israeli prison. (Screen capture: Channel 10)

Ghattas came under criminal investigation after being caught on prison surveillance video passing envelopes to Palestinian security prisoners in January.

Police said that the MK exploited his position as a member of Knesset — who cannot be subjected to a body search — during a visit to Ketziot Prison in southern Israel last year, where he met with Walid Daka, a Palestinian prisoner serving a 37-year sentence for the 1984 abduction and murder of 19-year-old IDF soldier Moshe Tamam. The former MK also met with Basel Ben Sulieman Bezre, who is serving a 15-year sentence on a terror conviction.

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