Daily Israel Report

Israeli Arab MK Bishara Accused of Treason, Espionage and More

Gag order lifted: Former Israeli-Arab MK Azmi Bishara engaged in espionage, treason, and robbed Arab aid groups, according to security officials.
By Ezra HaLevi
First Publish: 5/2/2007, 3:59 PM

The gag order on the full details of the investigation against former-MK Azmi Bishara has now been fully lifted, and allegations that he passed intelligence information to Hizbullah and received money in exchange can now be published.

According to security officials, the prominent Israeli-Arab leader received several hundred thousand dollars from Hizbullah for delivering intelligence information during the Second War in Lebanon last summer. He was also in touch with intelligence agents from other unnamed countries.

Bishara is accused of handing over information about strategic locations to enable Hizbullah to strike at them during the war. He is also suspected of stealing millions of shekels from Arab aid organizations, laundering the money through eastern Jerusalem money-changers, one of whom has reportedly turned state’s witness.

Bishara allegedly received envelopes full of cash, with one such envelope containing $50,000 in cash which he deposited in a Jordanian bank. Officials did not reveal from which country the money came.

In return for the cash, Bishara used his connections in Israel and with foreign countries to deliver intelligence information and to estimate government changes in policy during the war.

The Petah Tikva Magistrate's Court partially lifted the gag order last week, allowing only the publication of the fact that Bishara was suspected of aiding the enemy in wartime, transmitting information to the enemy, contacting a foreign agent and money laundering.

Security officials said that Bishara was not investigated due to his ideology, but was investigated due to his connection with Hizbullah, which allegedly "depended on him as part of its strategy" in the war on Israel and even assigned him detailed missions.

The Supreme Court was presented with evidence of Bishara’s espionage and authorized the tapping of his phone, which security officials used to gather further proof of his alleged treason.

Bishara’s Haifa office was searched recently, with security officials confiscating documents and computer hard drives. His Knesset office was sealed immediately following his resignation from the Knesset, which he presented to Israeli officials at the embassy in Cairo after fleeing the country more than a month ago.

Nor is he expected to return. He reportedly lied to investigators, telling them that he was going to be out of the country for just a few days. He faces life imprisonment or even a possible death penalty if convicted of the relevant charges.

Replacing Bishara in the Knesset will be the Balad Party’s number 4 candidate, MK Said Nafa. In the coming days, Nafa will be asked to swear an oath that he will be loyal to the State of Israel and obey its laws.

Nafa, a member of the Druze community, is actively trying to end his community’s practice of serving in the IDF. Nafa claims the Druze, traditionally loyal to the sovereign government under which they live, are an “inalienable part of the Palestinian nation.”

Nafa himself served jail time for refusing to serve in the IDF.

MK Barakeh Tipping Off Hamas Gov’t?
The PA-based International Middle East Media Center (IMEMC) reports that Israeli-Arab MK Mohammad Barakeh told the news agency that he suspects Israel will carry out a military operation in Gaza following the Winograd Committee report.

“It will not be strange to see a wide scale military offensive against the Gaza Strip orchastrated [sic] by Peretz and Olmert to save face of the war defeat in Lebanon, by the Hezbollah Guerilla [sic],” the IMEMC report says.