Israeli Arab Strikes Plea Bargain Over Hezbollah Spy Charges

Will serve seven months behind bars

The Nazareth District Court yesterday approved a plea bargain in the case of an Israeli Arab who had been charged with spying on behalf of Hezbollah.

Omar Saeed had been accused, along with another Israeli Arab, Ameer Makhoul, of establishing contact with a Hezbollah agent and giving him information that could assist the enemy organization.

Under the plea bargain, however, Saeed will instead be charged with working for an illegal organization and will serve a sentence of seven months in jail.

Over the last few days, the prosecution and defense negotiated intensively over the details of the deal, Haaretz has learned.

The plea bargain will have no impact on the fate of Saeed's co-defendant, Makhoul, whose trial has yet to begin.

Makhoul, the director general of Ittijah (the Union of Arab Community-Based Associations ), was detained by the Shin Bet security service and the police on May 6 on charges of espionage and contact with a foreign agent. Saeed, a member of the Balad party, was arrested on April 24 on the same charges.

Makhoul was kept from meeting with a lawyer or speaking with his family for nearly two weeks after his arrest. He was brought to court, but was forbidden to participate in the hearings.

Defense attorneys were finally allowed access to Makhoul after they threatened to boycott a hearing unless they were allowed to meet their client.