MK Said Nafa (Balad) has been charged with visiting Syria without permission, organizing the visit of 300 Israeli Druse religious leaders to Syria and meeting with foreign agents during the visit, Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz announced on Sunday.
In response, Nafa told The Jerusalem Post that he would ask the Knesset to recognize his parliamentary immunity against prosecution for the crimes with which he has been charged.
"I regard the attorney-general's decision as politically motivated and as political persecution of an elected official," he said. "I will argue that I did what I did as a public servant, as an MK and as the representative of the interests of people."
Nafa is accused of having organized the Druse visit to Syria in September 2007. By law, Israelis may only visit enemy countries if they receive permission from the interior minister. The Druse religious leaders requested permission and were turned down. Nafa did not ask for permission.
Nafa is also accused of meeting with Talal Naji, deputy secretary-general of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Khaled Mashaal, head of the Hamas political bureau, during the visit.
He is charged with violating the Penal Law and the Emergency Defense Regulations.
Nafa charged that the allegations against three other Arab MKs who were investigated for having visited Lebanon in 2005 and 2006 without permission were dropped.
"I am not just uttering clichÃ©s when I say that I am being politically persecuted," said Nafa.
He said that "many people in Israel are bothered by my nationalist activities in general and among the Druse population in particular. According to these people, the Druse are supposed to be a herd locked up in a pen."
Nafa refused to say whether he would deny the charges of meeting with foreign agents if the case does indeed come to trial. However, in past interviews, he has said the allegation was false.
Nafa is the second Israeli Arab MK to be indicted in recent weeks. On November 1, MK Muhammad Barakeh (Hadash) was charged on four separate charges of insulting and assaulting policemen during demonstrations.