MK Barakeh Urges Bishara to Return and Face the Music

Hadash Chairman Mohammed Barakeh yesterday urged Balad Chairman Azmi Bishara to return to Israel and face the accusations against him, which include aiding the enemy in wartime and passing information to the enemy.

"Bishara can't talk about it only in television broadcasts," said Barakeh. "We are Knesset members. When we decided to run for the Knesset and were elected, we accepted the rules of the game, for better or for worse."

Bishara, an Israeli Arab MK until he resigned his post recently at the Israeli embassy in Cairo, has said that he does not consider it possible to receive a fair trial in Israel.

Barakeh, himself an Arab MK, responded that Arab MKs know they must "recognize the right of the law to hold them to account," even if they disagree with a law and therefore deliberately choose to violate it. As an example, he cited the law that forbade Israelis from having contact with the Palestine Liberation Organization - a law that was repeatedly violated by MKs prior to the Oslo peace process. "We broke the law and we knew we'd pay a price," he said.

All the same, Barakeh said that Israeli Arabs have become targets of incitement.

"There is currently a wave of incitement against the Arab population," he said. "Bishara has been judged before being put on trial. Every frustrated politician is trying to jump all over us."

Balad faction chairman Jamal Zahalka said that Bishara would return, but his return would be discussed only after the storm had passed.