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Arab Israeli MK resigns after jail phones plea bargain

Basel Ghattas
JERUSALEM: An Arab Israeli lawmaker who admitted to smuggling mobile phones to Palestinian prisoners resigned on Sunday, a Parliament statement said.
Basel Ghattas had said he would step down after striking a deal with prosecutors that saw him plead guilty to handing phones and SIM cards to Palestinian detainees in return for a reduced sentence.
“I decided (to accept) after consultation with my lawyers and taking into account my personal and family situation,” he told AFP on Friday.
Ghattas, who could have faced up to 10 years in prison, applied instead for a two-year term.
Israeli media have reported that 12 mobile phones were found on two separate prisoners in searches after Ghattas visited the high security Ketziot prison in December.
The 60-year-old Christian allegedly used his parliamentary immunity to avoid being searched.
One of the prisoners is serving time for the kidnapping and murder of an Israeli soldier in 1984, the Ynet news website reported.
Ghattas said in an earlier statement his action was motivated by his “humanitarian and moral positions toward prisoners and he is ready to assume full responsibility for it.”
Lawmakers of the Joint List, the third largest bloc in Parliament with 13 seats, frequently clash with Israeli authorities.
Arab Israelis make up some 17.5 percent of the country’s population and are descended from Palestinians who remained on their land after the creation of Israel in 1948.
They hold Israeli citizenship but most see themselves as Palestinians.
JERUSALEM: An Arab Israeli lawmaker who admitted to smuggling mobile phones to Palestinian prisoners resigned on Sunday, a Parliament statement said.
Basel Ghattas had said he would step down after striking a deal with prosecutors that saw him plead guilty to handing phones and SIM cards to Palestinian detainees in return for a reduced sentence.
“I decided (to accept) after consultation with my lawyers and taking into account my personal and family situation,” he told AFP on Friday.
Ghattas, who could have faced up to 10 years in prison, applied instead for a two-year term.
Israeli media have reported that 12 mobile phones were found on two separate prisoners in searches after Ghattas visited the high security Ketziot prison in December.
The 60-year-old Christian allegedly used his parliamentary immunity to avoid being searched.
One of the prisoners is serving time for the kidnapping and murder of an Israeli soldier in 1984, the Ynet news website reported.
Ghattas said in an earlier statement his action was motivated by his “humanitarian and moral positions toward prisoners and he is ready to assume full responsibility for it.”
Lawmakers of the Joint List, the third largest bloc in Parliament with 13 seats, frequently clash with Israeli authorities.
Arab Israelis make up some 17.5 percent of the country’s population and are descended from Palestinians who remained on their land after the creation of Israel in 1948.
They hold Israeli citizenship but most see themselves as Palestinians.

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