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Israeli Arab to Submit Plea Bargain on Spying Charges

Political activist Ameer Makhoul is set to confess to charges of spying, contact with a foreign agent and giving information to the enemy.

A plea bargain in the espionage case against political activist Ameer Makhoul will be submitted to the Haifa District Court today.

The deal will involve amending the facts in the indictment - which was based mainly on Makhoul's own statements to the police - and removing some of the charges against him, Haaretz has learned.

However, he is set to confess to charges of spying, contact with a foreign agent and giving information to the enemy.

Makhoul's attorneys will apparently seek a sentence of no more than seven years in jail, while prosecutors will seek a 10-year sentence. The court is scheduled to hand down its decision in December.

Neither the defense nor the prosecution would confirm the details of this report, saying merely that the agreement will be submitted to the court.

Makhoul's brother, Issam Makhoul, a former MK for the Hadash party, confirmed the general outlines of the deal, but said a few details remain to be settled and negotiations are still underway.

The former MK added that the family supports the deal.

"You need to take into account the general atmosphere prevailing in the country and the incitement against the Arab public," he said. "All this could ultimately influence the trial, and therefore ... we hope we'll reach an agreement very soon."

Ameer Makhoul served as director of Ittijah, the Union of Arab Community-Based Organizations, and also chaired the High Arab Monitoring Committee's panel on defending Arab citizens' freedoms.

He was arrested in May along with Omar Sayid, an activist with the Balad party.

Both were suspected of serious security offenses, including spying. But Sayid reached a plea bargain under which he was convicted of a much less serious offense - aiding an illegal organization - and sentenced to only seven months in prison.

With the time he had served since his arrest and time off for good behavior, Sayid was released last month.