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(photo credit: Channel 2)
A prison term of 34 months and 12 months probation was the sentence handed down on Monday to an Israeli Arab convicted of spying for Iran, it was released for publication on Tuesday.
Jaris Jaris, 59, was arrested on December 12, 2005, after investigators discovered that he had been recruited by Iran and was asked to use his political contacts to infiltrate the corridors of power by making efforts to be elected to the Knesset on a Meretz ticket.
Under a plea bargain the court adopted, Jaris admitted to charges of contact with a foreign agent and cover-up. In return, the original and more severe charges of conspiracy to pass on information to the enemy were removed from the indictment.
The prosecution, which admitted that Jaris did not inflict a great degree of harm to state security, also said that the state would not object to cut his sentence by a third when and if he appears at a parole hearing.
"Forbidding contact with a foreign agent is meant to prevent a rapid deterioration that could easily lead to more serious offenses. It is therefore the duty of the court to express the severity of this felony, even if, eventually, not a great degree of a harm was done to state security," the judges said on Monday.
Details of the case, cracked by the police's Serious and International Crimes Unit together with the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), were released for publication in January.
"Jaris's interrogation reveals a web of Iranian espionage activity against Israel," officials had claimed. "The efforts included attempts to infiltrate an Iranian agent into the Knesset with the primary goal of obtaining classified information and influencing government decisions."
Jaris, police said, fled from Israel in 1970 and moved to Lebanon after he was caught operating a Fatah terror cell. Once there, he continued working for Fatah and was responsible for sending terrorists across the border into Israel.
In 1996, Jaris returned to Israel, and from May 2001 until November 2003 served as the head of the Fasuta local council.
In September 2004, police said, he traveled to Cyprus to meet with Hani Abdullah - a friend he met in Lebanon - to promote the establishment of a research center. Abdullah told Jaris that the center could be funded by Hizbullah and Iran. Jaris agreed.
Police said that in 2005 the Shin Bet identified a significant rise in the number of Iranian attempts to recruit Israeli citizens as spies. The security establishment has dealt with a number of cases in recent years of Israeli Arabs suspected of maintaining contacts with Iranian intelligence. Some of the Israelis worked in jobs in which they had access to sensitive information, police said.
The arrest of Jaris marked the first known attempt by Iran to infiltrate Israel's government and political system, sources in the Shin Bet said. There were also other significant attempts last year by Iran to infiltrate Israel and to establish links with Palestinian terror groups.
The Iranians view any opportunity for Israel and the Palestinians to reach an agreement as a threat, and would do anything to torpedo it, a security official said.