04.30.2016 | 22 Nisan, 5776
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Bishara Balad party.
(photo credit:AP [file])
Three Arab Knesset members met with Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora in Beirut on Friday, where they expressed their sympathy for the plight of the Lebanese during the war - as well as their support for Hizbullah.
Hizbullah's resistance to Israel has "lifted the spirit of the Arab people," Balad MKs Azmi Bishara, Jamal Zahalka and Wasal Taha told the prime minister.
The MKs' arrival in Lebanon on Thursday following a week-long trip to Syria has become one of the most controversial "solidarity missions" in the history of the Israeli legislature.
The three Balad MKs coordinated their visit with the speaker of the Lebanese Parliament, Nabih Berri, who is close to Hizbullah.
"Their visit is blatant treason... it is an act of espionage," said Israel Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman, who has already called for the three to be dismissed from the Knesset.
During their week in Syria, the lawmakers met with political and religious leaders, making headlines when they told Baath party officials that Israel was likely to attack Syria to recover its military deterrence.
Bishara expressed support for Syria's struggle to free "occupied Arab land" and praised Syrian support for "resistance to the occupation."
Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz has opened an investigation against the three for the visit to Syria. Police said Thursday that the investigation would be carried out by the International Serious Crimes Unit.
Knesset members are prohibited from traveling to enemy countries under a 2001 law that carries sanctions of up to four years in jail. That law was passed after Bishara visited to Syria but escaped legal action after it was determined that there was no law prohibiting his trip.
"We passed a law specifically against this type of thing five years ago, and that law was hand-written for Bishara," said one NU-NRP MK. "Now he has the gall to travel to Syria again? They [the Balad MKs] don't deserve to be in the Knesset."
The Balad legislators have responded to the outcry against them by saying in a statement that they were prepared to "face the consequences" of their visit.
"This trip is to express solidarity with the victims of the war," a Balad spokesman said. "It is our right, and the right of Arabs in Israel, to remain in contact with Arab nations."
In Syria, Zahalka met with Syrian President Bashar Assad, who told the MK that Syria was committed to the 2002 Arab League peace initiative and that he would establish official ties with Israel only after Israel accepted the initiative.
Rebecca Anna Stoil contributed to this report.
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