Arab-Israeli lawmaker gives up parliamentary immunity over smuggled cellphones


JERUSALEM (JTA) — An Arab-Israeli lawmaker who smuggled cellphones to Palestinian terrorists in Israeli prisons agreed to give up his parliamentary immunity for an investigation into his actions.

Basel Ghattas’ agreement Thursday came prior to a scheduled Knesset debate and vote on stripping the Balad lawmaker of his immunity. Balad is one of the parties that make up the Arab Joint List.

The Knesset House Committee had already voted unanimously Wednesday to revoke the privilege.

Ghattas was captured on a video surveillance camera passing cellphones to two Palestinian security prisoners in Ketziot Prison on Sunday. At first he denied passing the cellphones, but reportedly admitted it after being shown the video.

“My visits to the prisoners are part of my humanitarian and moral activism,” he said, according to Channel 2, after he was questioned Tuesday.

The Knesset House Committee on Tuesday put a blanket ban on Israeli lawmakers visiting prisoners in jail for security crimes, both Palestinian and Israeli, after the Shin Bet security service recommended the action.

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