Israel Police's elite International and Serious Crimes Unit (ISCU) began a criminal investigation Monday into former MKs Muhammad Miari and Muhammad Kanan, who recently traveled together with current Balad MKs Azmi Bishara, Jamal Zahalka and Wasal Taha to Syria and Lebanon.
A week ago Sunday, Attorney General Menahem Mazuz announced that he would open an investigation into the trip, which was conducted without receiving the necessary government permission. The five visited both Syria and Lebanon, meeting with government officials and offering interviews to local television stations, only four weeks after the cessation of violence along the Israel-Lebanon border.
In a radio interview Monday, Bishara said the Balad MKs knew before their trip that there was a possibility that criminal proceedings would be launched against them upon their return. He maintained that Israel has no right to determine with which fellow Arabs the MKs can or cannot maintain relations.
Miari, a former MK who represented the Progressive List for Peace for two terms from 1984-1992, was the first of the five to be questioned with regard to the recent trip. His questioning session, conducted at the ISCU's offices, lasted for approximately two hours and police said there was a strong possibility that he would face further questioning at a later date. The other four suspects will all be questioned in the near future.
This is not the first time that a Bishara junket to Syria aroused the ire of fellow MKs. In 2001, following one such trip, a law was passed in the Knesset forbidding political officials from traveling to enemy states.