Harassing Arab MKs

The decision to remove Said Naffaa's parliamentary immunity, like the decision to prosecute the Balad MK to begin with, is unwarranted, harmful and smacks of political persecution based on nationality.

MK Naffaa went to Syria in 2007 at the head of a delegation of Druze clergy who wanted to make a pilgrimage to their holy sites. The grave indictment against Naffaa says that while there, he met with the deputy chairman of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (Ahmed Jibril's group), and also visited the offices of Khaled Meshal, who heads Hamas' political wing. As a result, he is charged with visiting an enemy country and making contact with a foreign agent. Naffaa denies that these meetings took place.

Naffaa is not the first Arab lawmaker to go to an Arab country, and prosecuting him seems like an attempt to make him a scapegoat, in order to warn off others: Let the Druze be warned that they must not radicalize their positions, and let all Arab MKs be warned that the state is watching their actions closely and seeks to prevent them from visiting Arab countries. After all, no one suspects Naffaa of conveying security-related information to the enemy or aiding and abetting terrorist activities.

The Druze clergymen's trip to Syria, where many of their community live, is essentially no different than any other pilgrimage, such as the one thousands of Jews routinely make to Egypt to prostrate themselves on the grave of Rabbi Yaakov Abuhatzeira. And the handshake between MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta'al) and Syrian President Bashar Assad in Paris a year ago is no different than the handshake between Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov (Yisrael Beiteinu) and his Iranian counterpart in Spain.

Instead of calling on Arab lawmakers to act as a bridge between Israel and the Arab world, Israel puts them on trial under a law that should never have been passed in the first place. The law barring MKs from visiting Arab countries is not merely a harmful one that impedes their efforts to engage in public activity on behalf of their voters. It is also discriminatory, because it is aimed only at them.

Whether the purpose of a visit is to make contacts in Arab countries to help advance the cause of peace, to see relatives, or to make a pilgrimage, the state should give Arab MKs freedom of action and of movement, on condition, of course, that they do not commit security-related offenses.