Bishara will return, Balad insists

MK Wasal Taha denies report that Arab-Israel MK had asked for asylum in Qatar.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
April 10, 2007 23:33
2 minute read.
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Rumors surrounding the disappearance abroad of outspoken Balad MK Azmi Bishara swirled on Tuesday, with MKs from the party denying that he would not return to Israel. Balad officials and people close to Bishara made several statements about his whereabouts and his political future, all of which were later dismissed by Balad MKs Wasal Taha and Jamal Zahalka, and even by Bishara himself, according to people who claimed to have spoken to him. Taha rejected reports that Bishara would not return to Israel soon. Another source close to Bishara said the MK was concerned that leaving Israel permanently would be seen as betraying his constituency.

  • Analysis: The Arab MK's predicament
  • Azmi Bishara's primary victims "We are just hearing lie after lie after lie," Taha said. "Stop spreading rumors and things that are not true. He is staying in Jordan with friends for now, and his family will come back in a few days." Taha also denied a newspaper report in Kol Al-Arab that Bishara had asked for asylum in Qatar, and another report that he was set to leave Jordan on Tuesday to attend a conference in Spain on Wednesday. Bishara reportedly said he heard from the media that he intended to quit the Knesset but there was no truth to the reports. He reportedly lashed out at Israeli legal authorities for repeated investigations against him. "The Israeli authorities are out to get me," Bishara said, according to Ma'ariv. "They are trying to incriminate me and they are fabricating legal cases against me." Channel 2 reported that Bishara was afraid that if he returned to Israel, police would prevent him from leaving the country again. The station reported that Bishara had been to seven countries on three continents in recent weeks, but that to quit the Knesset legally, he would have to return to deliver his resignation letter in person. Bishara's political opponents in the Knesset took turns bashing him and expressed satisfaction with the idea that he might not return. "MK Bishara harmed the delicate relationship between Jews and Arabs in the State of Israel, and if he in fact will leave the Israeli political scene, it will only help everyone," Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu said during a tour of Mimouna events in the North. Kadima MK Yoel Hasson said Israel made a mistake by giving Bishara so much freedom to express his views, and that if he did come back, a police car should wait for him at the border with handcuffs. National Union-National Religious Party MK Zevulun Orlev submitted a bill on Tuesday that would prevent anyone who visits an enemy country from visiting Israel. "Whoever hesitates in the face of the growing phenomenon" of Arab MKs openly attacking the sovereignty of Israel by traveling to enemy countries and meeting with hard-line Palestinian leaders, Orlev said, "will find himself soon enough facing a violent Arab mutiny that will sweep the entire Arab population." Attorney Ophir Miller appealed to the High Court of Justice on Tuesday, asking it to force Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz and the Parties Registrar to disqualify Balad.

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