(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
MK Said Nafa (Balad), who was charged in December with illegally visiting an enemy country, was stripped of his parliamentary immunity on Tuesday following a stormy session of the Knesset Committee, thus setting the stage for his criminal trial.
"I am not surprised in the least," Nafa said following the vote. "The discussion was topical. It's important that the matters I'm accused of were raised in the way that they were raised, and I'll fight for my innocence in court."
In mid-December, Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz announced that Nafa would be 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.
At the time, 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. On Tuesday, however, he lost that battle.
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.Dan Izenberg contributed to this report.