For the first time since he left Israel about a week and a half ago, Arab Member of Knesset Azmi Bishara went before the cameras Monday night and gave an interview to the well-known Arab television channel Al-Jazeera.
The interview was aired several hours after an Israeli court released for publication the fact that an investigation is being conducted against Bishara.
The judge said that Bishara knows what suspicions are attributed to him, but the police have to continue to examine the information gathered so far. “We are at a stage of the investigation that does not enable publications, particularly since the person being investigated is not before me and has not requested anything,” explained the presiding judge, who also said that the investigation is being conducted cautiously by senior investigation personnel and with the personal supervision of Attorney General Meni Mazuz. The gag order imposed on the affair is scheduled to expire in one week’s time. An unconfirmed report has it that Bishara leaked details of a planned U.S./Israeli action against Iran that Bishara had heard from a source in the security-conscious Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee.
Bishara, who is in Qatar, was careful not to elaborate to the viewers of Al- Jazeera the content of the suspicions attributed to him.
He said that his phone calls are being tapped. “If the attorney general decides to indict me, the Knesset is expected to remove my immunity,” he assessed.
Bishara announced once again that he wishes to resign from the Knesset: “During the war, when my friends in Lebanon were suffering, it was psychologically difficult for me to enter the Knesset. I am a Palestinian democrat, not an Israeli democrat. I will resign from the Knesset, but I have not yet decided when to do so.” Bishara said that he had decided to resign even before the investigation against him. But after he learned of the investigation, he decided to delay his resignation in order to continue to enjoy the benefit of parliamentary immunity.
Bishara said that the immunity had prevented his arrest and enabled him to leave the country: “Contrary to the descriptions in Israel, my departure was planned. It is clear that I will return, I have no intentions of not returning, but I need time to decide how to act in the situation that has arisen.”
Meanwhile, Bishara is also facing suspicions from people inside the Israeli Arab community. Bishara recently offered $2 million for a home in Jerusalem, which is far beyond the 200,000 IS ($50,000) per annum fee that he now earns as a member of Knesset. Since Bishara has never owned substantive property or had any shares in any business, the question is being asked: from where is the $2 million coming?
At the same time, Bishara is being accused by members of several Israeli Arab nonprofit organizations with financial misdemeanors.
The Bulletin has asked the Israel Registrar of Non Profit Organizations for complete disclosure of the nonprofit organizations in which MK Bishara is involved.
David Bedein can be reached at Media@actcom.co.il. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.co
©The Bulletin 2007