Israeli Arab Activist Confesses to Spying for Hezbollah

Ameer Makhoul admits to charges of espionage, contact with a foreign agent and conspiring to assist an enemy, in plea bargain reached Wednesday.

A plea bargain in the espionage case against political activist Ameer Makhoul was reached on Wednesday, with Makhoul confessing to charges of conspiring to assist an enemy, contact with a foreign agent and espionage for Hezbollah.

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.

Makhoul - Tomer Neuberg
Tomer Neuberg

Both were suspected of serious security offenses, including spying and the two allegedly were in contact with an agent from Hezbollah.

On Wednesday, the plea bargain was agreed upon in a Haifa District Court after being submitted on Tuesday.

The deal apparently involved 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.

A representative for the prosecution said "The plea bargain was approved by the highest ranking levels of prosecution, including the state prosecutor. Most importantly Makhoul, who claimed he was being politically persecuted at the beginning of this, now stands in front of the court and admits to the charges attributed to him."

The defendant's lawyer said that despite the plea bargain which was reached, his client did not pass classified information to an enemy agent; he said all of the information was already known.

Makhoul said at the court that the story "is not yet finished." He claimed that many of the charges that were brought against him were irrelevant, but he decided to accept the plea bargain after consulting with his lawyers and with family.

The punishment phase of the trail will begin on December 5. The prosecution is seeking a 10 year prison sentence, while the defense is aiming for seven.