Arab MK suspected of passing intel to Palestinian prisoner who murdered soldier
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Arab MK suspected of passing intel to Palestinian prisoner who murdered soldier

Channel 2 says Joint List MK Basel Ghattas gave ‘significant’ information to jailed killer; fellow lawmakers call for his impeachment

Arab-Israeli parliament member MK Basel Ghattas of the Joint (Arab) List in the Knesset. February 12, 2015. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Arab-Israeli parliament member MK Basel Ghattas of the Joint (Arab) List in the Knesset. February 12, 2015. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

An Arab MK accused of passing telephones and SIM cards to a pair of Palestinian security prisoners is also suspected of handing “intelligence information” to one of the two, Channel 2 television reported Monday.

Channel 2 said that Walid Daka — who is serving a 37-year sentence for the 1984 kidnap and murder of 19-year-old IDF soldier Moshe Tamam — was searched after a visit by MK Basel Ghattas of the Joint (Arab) List following a tip-off to officials, and was found to have “significant” information hidden in his underwear.

Both Daka and the other inmate believed to have received items from Ghattas are members of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has authorized police to question Ghattas under caution for alleged security breaches. The MK is suspected of smuggling cell phones to the prisoners at Ketziot prison, south of Beersheba in southern Israel. Police told Channel 2 that they believe Ghattas may have also, on at least one occasion, smuggled in SIM cards for the prisoners, hidden in a hollowed-out book.

“At least one of the occasions [he visited the prison], he held a book with the pages missing, instead there were SIM cards, cellphones and so on,” said a source in the police force, adding that he may have also smuggled in documents and that the evidence against Ghattas was substantial.

IDF soldier Moshe Tamam, who was murdered in 1984 (YouTube screenshot)
IDF soldier Moshe Tamam, who was murdered in 1984 (YouTube screenshot)

IDF soldier Moshe Tamam was abducted by a group of Arab Israelis as he got off a bus a few minutes from his home outside of Netanya in August 1984. His body was located four days later – he had been shot, and his face badly mutilated.

In the wake of the allegations against Ghattas, Environment Minister Ze’ev Elkin on Monday started a petition among lawmakers to have the Joint List lawmaker expelled from the Knesset.

“Let us put an end to the abuse of parliamentary immunity in order to aid terror,” Elkin tweeted. “I ask MKs to join my initiative to expel MK Basel Ghattas under the impeachment law.”

“The facts are clear,” Elkin wrote in his petition, the Hebrew-language media reported. “But despite that, MK Basel Ghattas has not expressed any remorse. Considering that the criminal proceedings will take a long time, there is no reason in the world why he should continue to serve in the Knesset during this time, to receive a salary paid for by the public and to use his immunity and his position to support terror.”

The impeachment law was passed in June. It was initiated by Elkin at the request of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Joint Arab List members Jamal Zahalka (L), Hanin Zoabi (R) and Basel Ghattas at the weekly Joint Arab list meeting at the Knesset, Israel's parliament in Jerusalem on February 8, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
MKs Jamal Zahalka (L), Hanin Zoabi (R) and Basel Ghattas at the weekly Joint (Arab) list meeting at the Knesset, Israel’s parliament in Jerusalem on February 8, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

According to the final version of the bill, 70 Knesset members — 10 of whom must be from the opposition — are required to file a complaint with the Knesset speaker against any lawmaker who supports an armed struggle against Israel or incites to racial hatred, kicking off the impeachment process.

The Knesset House Committee would then debate the complaint before clearing it with a three-quarter majority in the committee. The motion to dismiss the lawmaker would then be sent to the plenum, where, if 90 of the 120 Knesset members vote in favor, the MK would be ousted. The deposed lawmaker could then appeal the decision with the Supreme Court.

The Balad Party is part of the Knesset’s Joint (Arab) List and has three of their 13 seats. At the time the impeachment bill was being discussed Joint (Arab) List chairman Ayman Odeh threatened to quit the Knesset if the bill was signed into law.

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