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Arab Israeli MP resigns in plea bargain

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM

An Arab Israeli lawmaker who admitted to smuggling mobile phones to Palestinian prisoners resigned on Sunday, a parliament statement said.

Basel Ghattas had said he would step down after striking a deal with prosecutors that saw him plead guilty to handing phones and SIM cards to Palestinian detainees in return for a reduced sentence.

“I decided (to accept) after consultation with my lawyers and taking into account my personal and family situation,” he said on Friday.

Ghattas, who could have faced up to 10 years in prison, applied instead for a two-year term.

Israeli media have reported that 12 mobile phones were found on two separate prisoners in searches after Ghattas visited the high security Ketziot prison in December.

The 60-year-old Christian allegedly used his parliamentary immunity to avoid being searched.

Ghattas said earlier his action was motivated by his “humanitarian and moral positions towards prisoners and he is ready to assume full responsibility for it”.

Lawmakers of the Joint List, the third largest bloc in parliament with 13 seats, frequently clash with authorities.

Agence France-Presse