MK Barakei makes illicit Yemen trip

Arab MK did not receive defense officials' permission to visit enemy country.

jp.services2 (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
MK Muhammad Barakei tested Israel's policy against visiting enemy countries once again this week, taking an unapproved trip to Yemen. Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz announced Monday that he would open an investigation into the Hadash MK's trip, amid calls by right-wing MKs for Mazuz to "once and for all punish" Barakei. Barakei's trip was the latest in unauthorized forays by Arab MKs into enemy territory. In September, Balad MKs Azmi Bishara, Jamal Zahalka and Wasal Taha were questioned by the police's International and Serious Crimes Unit for their diplomatic visit to Syria and Lebanon. Barakei has already been investigated for a 2001 trip to Syria. Knesset protocols require MKs to receive authorization from the Knesset Ethics Committee for all trips abroad. A number of bills were introduced in the past Knesset to ban MKs from taking trips to enemy countries, but none of the bills passed a second reading. "We have not asked for permission for this trip because it is clear to us that his travel there was in keeping with his position as an MK," said a spokesman for Barakei. According to the spokesman, Barakei will be the keynote speaker in a conference on the rights of Palestinian refugees in Iraq. He will return to Israel on Thursday in time for Land Day. The Jewish community in Yemen has been steadily declining as reports of anti-Semitic activity increase. In February, the Yemenite government had to relocate 45 Jews to the capital from their native town of Saada after they were harassed by locals there.