Knesset panel votes to strip terror-aiding MK of parliamentary immunity

An Arab Knesset member may lose his parliamentary immunity and face prosecution for abetting terror against Israelis.

The 15-member Knesset House Committee voted unanimously on Wednesday afternoon to remove parliamentary immunity from lawmaker Basel Ghattas of the Joint List – an alliance of four Arab political parties – who is accused of aiding terrorists and threatening Israel’s security.

A special plenary session was set for 4 p.m. on Thursday for a final vote that would make it official.

The investigation into Ghattas’ actions was initially prompted by intelligence collected by the Israeli Prison Service.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit said there was sufficient evidence to charge Ghattas, who visited Ketziot prison in the Negev on Sunday, where he handed documents and envelopes to two Palestinians serving time for acts of terror.

The exchange was seen on camera, as permitted by Mandelblit, based on the intelligence assessment and security danger. Prison guards later revealed that the envelopes contained cellphones, which would likely be used to coordinate terror activities from jail.

Investigators questioned Ghattas on Tuesday over the allegations, which Ghattas dismissed, claiming that the accusations were “another chapter in the political persecution of the Arab public.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier this week that if the allegations are confirmed, a grave offense was committed against the state’s security and the citizens of Israel. “Anyone who harms the state’s security must be punished severely and must be banned from serving in Israel’s Knesset,” he stated.

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Minister Ze’ev Elkin is working to use the recently passed Impeachment Bill for the first time on Ghattas, enabling the expulsion of lawmakers working to undermine Israel’s democracy or incite against the country.

Ghattas was among three Arab-Israeli Knesset members who paid a condolence visit to families of Palestinian terrorists last February.

By: Atara Beck, World Israel News