The Knesset Ethics Committee on Monday approved a measure banning disgraced MK Basel Ghattas (Joint List) from entering the Knesset building for the next six months as police continue their investigation into allegations the MK provided material aid to jailed Hamas terrorists.
In December, Ghattas was accused of smuggling cellular devices to security prisoners being held in an Israeli prison, as well as carrying messages on behalf of the terrorists to and from the prison. Former Shin Bet (ISA) director and head of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, MK Avi Dichter, said on Radio Kol Chai that the phones are used to plan and coordinate terror attacks from within prison walls, and are therefore, to all intents and purposes, weapons.
While Ghattas initially denied the claims, he later confessed to aiding the prisoners, but insisted the content of the messages transmitted was not terror related. Israeli police have rejected this claim in statements to the press.
Despite being barred from entering the Knesset building, Ghattas retains his status as an MK, though he surrendered his parliamentary immunity. Ghattas continues to receive a salary and other stipends provided to MKs.
Because the Ethics Committee is not empowered to strip a sitting MK of his or her parliamentary voting rights, Ghattas technically remains able to vote on bills, but will for practical reasons be unable to do so given the ban on entry into the Knesset.