(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
The Northern District Attorney’s office served an indictment in the Nazareth
District Court on Monday charging MK Said Nafa (Balad) with contacting terror
organizations during an illegal trip to Syria.
By law, Israelis may only
visit enemy states if they receive permission from the interior
Hamas and other radical groups to join PLO
A separate indictment was also filed in the Nazareth
Magistrate’s Court, charging 16 other Israelis who allegedly accompanied Nafa on
the trip with traveling to an enemy country, conspiracy to commit a crime and
assisting with a visit to an enemy country.
According to the indictment,
Nafa arranged a trip to Syria for himself and 282 Druse Israelis without
government permission, where he allegedly met with leaders of the Popular Front
for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and attempted to meet with Hamas chief
The indictment alleges that in July 2007 Nafa contacted
the Interior Ministry to request travel permits to Syria for himself and a group
of Druse Israelis, but the ministry refused the request, citing security
After that refusal, in September 2007 Nafa allegedly contacted
a group of eight Druse clergymen and asked them to arrange for him to travel to
Syria with a group of Druse religious leaders. Nafa received a list of the names
of those wishing to travel to Syria, the indictment alleges, which included
former Balad chairman and MK Azmi Bishara.
Bishara, who fled Israel in
2007, is wanted for questioning by police over suspicions that he aided and
passed information to the enemy, including during the Second Lebanon
According to the indictment filed against Nafa, once in Jordan, he
and Bishara allegedly obtained travel permits to Syria from the Syrian
Nafa is alleged to have visited Syria between September 6-13,
Nafa is also charged in the indictment with contacting enemy agents
and members of illegal terror groups during his stay in Syria. While in
Damascus, Nafa allegedly met with a man named Nihad Malkhem, who arranged a
meeting between him and Talal Naji, deputy secretarygeneral of the
The indictment further charges Nafa attempted to secretly make
contact with Hamas political bureau chief Mashaal during Nafa’s alleged meeting
with Malkhem. Naji telephoned Mashaal, and arranged a meeting for the next
morning. It is alleged that Naji referred to Mashaal by the nickname “Abu al-
Walid” and told him that “a Balad party MK” would attend a meeting with him the
next day. Naji also allegedly told Mashaal Nihad Malkhem’s name.
indictment alleges that Nafa knew Mashaal’s nickname is “Abu al-Walid” and that
he was interested in meeting the Hamas leader.
The next day, according to
the indictment, a colleague of Mashaal’s came to Nafa’s hotel in Damascus and
drove Nafa to meet Mashaal as planned.
Malkhem allegedly refused to
accompany the pair, but the indictment charges that Nafa went to Mashaal’s
offices, where he received a gift.
The indictment against Nafa comes
after Knesset’s House Committee denied Nafa’s request in January 2010 for
parliamentary immunity from prosecution, a move that allowed state prosecutors
to file charges against him.
That decision was made after then
attorney-general Menahem Mazuz announced in December 2009 that Nafa would be
indicted for violating both the Penal Code and the Emergency Defense Regulations
by visiting Syria without permission and for allegedly meeting with Naji, and
Nafa, who denies meeting PFLP and Hamas members, told reporters
on Monday the indictment against him was “outrageous discrimination,” and said
thousands of Israeli civilians have visited Syria without being
Knesset House Committee Chairman MK Yariv Levin (Likud) told
The Jerusalem Post that the decision to press charges against Nafa sent a clear
message that democracy has red lines that cannot be crossed.
don’t understand their responsibilities as Knesset members, and use their
positions to act against the State of Israel and to cooperate illegally with
terror organizations,” said Levin.