Arab-Israeli lawmaker accused of smuggling cell phones to Palestinian prisoners suspended from Knesset activity

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — An Arab-Israeli lawmaker who allegedly smuggled cell phones to Palestinian terrorists in Israeli prisons has been suspended from parliamentary activity in the Knesset for six months.

Basel Ghattas of the Balad Party, which is part of the Arab Joint List, was suspended on Monday by the Knesset Ethics Committee, which approved the suspension by a vote of 3 to 1.

Though he cannot initiate legislation or participate in debates, his may still vote on bills, which is protected in the Basic Law, and will continue to receive his Knesset salary.

Last month, Ghattas agreed to give up his parliamentary immunity for an investigation into his actions.

Ghattas was captured on a video surveillance camera passing cell phones to two Palestinian security prisoners in Ketziot Prison on Sunday. At first he denied passing the cell phones, but reportedly admitted passing the packages after being shown the video, though he said he thought they contained reading material.

He said his action was “humanitarian and moral activism” after he was questioned two weeks ago.

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