Whbee: Nafa part of 'extremist margin'

Earlier, Balad MK Sa'id Nafa joins Druse delegation to Syria despite Interior Ministry prohibition.

said nafa 224.88 (photo credit: Knesset Web site)
said nafa 224.88
(photo credit: Knesset Web site)
Deputy Knesset Chairman Majalie Whbee (Kadima) strongly condemned a trip by members of the Druse community into Syria, Thursday, headed by Balad MK Sa'id Nafa. "The trip of flattery to [Syrian President Bashar] Assad, initiated by members of the school of [former MK] Azmi Bishara, represents only the extremist margin groups and not the mainstream Druse population of Israel. If the Syrians really wanted to help the Druse going to visit the holy sites of the community, they would not ask to do it with the mediation of Bishara and his associates' propaganda machine," Whbee said. "The trip today is another sign for the state that sticks its head in the sand and is not doing enough to halt subversive actions perpetrates under the auspices of [extreme left wing Arab party] Balad and its leaders," Whbee added. Nafa's application to visit Syria was denied by the Interior Ministry earlier this week, but he decided nonetheless to lead a delegation of 330 Druse religious officials there as a pilgrimage. According to Nafa, the trip was meant to maintain contact between Druse in Syria and in Israel, as well as between Syrian and Israeli Arabs. In his written request to the Interior Ministry, Nafa said that the group wanted to visit the Tomb of Habil, located 30 miles west of Damascus. Habil is the Arab name for Abel, Cain's brother. In the past, Israel has allowed Druse citizens to visit the tomb as part of their religious worship. However, Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit, who rejected the request, wrote that security officials "refuse to approve visits by Druse religious officials to Syria and Lebanon." Nafa replaced MK Azmi Bishara in the Balad Party after Bishara fled Israel amid accusations of espionage. Although Bishara's current whereabouts are unknown, he has frequently resurfaced in Syria and publicly supported the Syrian government. It is illegal for Israeli lawmakers and citizens to travel to states with which Israel is technically at war, such as Syria and Lebanon. Last year, Balad MKs Bishara, Wasal Taha and Jamal Zahalka, along with former MKs Muhammad Miari and Muhammad Kanan, were investigated for a trip they made to Lebanon and Syria not long after the Second Lebanon War. MK Effi Eitam (NU-NRP) slammed Nafa's visit, saying that the MK was following in the footsteps of Bishara. "Bishara started out by visiting capital cities of nations and ended up acting as an agent of the enemy," said Eitam. He added that he expected security officials to keep tabs on Nafa's activities in Syria, and act accordingly when he returned.