Israeli Arab Legislator Released to House Arrest

Police detain suspect over involvement in incident, in which Basel Ghattas allegedly smuggled cellphones to security prisoners.

MK Basel Ghattas at court on December 23, 2016.
AMIR COHEN/REUTERS

Lawmaker Basel Ghattas, who is suspected of criminal conspiracy and providing materials to a terror group, was released to 45 days of house arrest on Tuesday upon a request by the police. During this period, he will not be allowed to vote in the Knesset.

Also Tuesday, the police detained another person as part of their investigation of MK Ghattas (Joint List). The second suspect is the brother of one of the Palestinian security prisoners who received cellphones allegedly smuggled in by Ghattas, and will be brought to court to have his detention extended.

Ghattas was arrested Thursday following the lifting of his parliamentary immunity by the Knesset, and a court extended his detention on Monday. He has been filmed bringing a package to two convicted Palestinian security prisoners in Ketziot Prison; the package turned out to be holding smartphones and documents. Ghattas says he believed the package contained books.

On Sunday, police searched Ghattas' Knesset offices with the permission of Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, the first time such permission has been granted since 1979. His home was also searched.