Joint (Arab) List lawmaker Basel Ghattas was sentenced by an Israeli court on Sunday to two years in prison and a 120,000 shekel fine, when the court accepted a plea bargain leading to his conviction for smuggling cell phones to Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.
The Beersheba Magistrate’s Court accepted the plea bargain reached between Israeli prosecutors and MK Ghattas, who was convicted of exploiting his position to sneak cell phones and notes to Palestinian detainees.
After accepting the deal, the court handed down a two-year prison term to Ghattas, as well as a 120,000 shekel fine. His sentence will begin on July 2, according to the court ruling.
The conviction was found to carry moral turpitude, meaning he will be barred from serving in the Knesset for seven years after completing his sentence.
Despite accepting the plea deal, the Israeli Judge Itay Bresler-Gonen said the sentence Ghattas received was “easy” and a “deviation” compared to the sentences received by others for similar allegations.
Ghattas came under criminal investigation after being caught on prison surveillance video passing envelopes to Palestinian prisoners in January. Shortly after, he had been sentenced to house arrest. Ghattas resigned from the Knesset last month.
According to observers, Ghattas was being persecuted by the Israeli authorities as part of a crackdown on anti-occupation lawmakers among the Knesset’s Arab minority.