BISHARA ENDS SPECULATION AND RUMOURS…. RESIGNS FROM KNESSET

Just moments ago it was announced in the Israeli press that Azmi Bishara has indeed resigned as a member of the Israeli Knesset.
Now a new round of rumours have started as to when or if he will return to Israel.
The Knesset is now ready to go ahead with whatever trumped up charges they have against this respected leader of the Palestinian people. His crucifixion will be a long drawn out procedure, mainly aimed at taking attention away from the real problems we face in Israel today. The Israeli reports were based on an interview he granted to AlJazeera. Report of that can be seen HERE.
Ynet also reported THIS.
Below is the article that just appeared in HaAretz…
Updates will follow as they become available….

Justice Ministry bars entry to Bishara’s Knesset office By Jack Khoury and Yoav Stern, Haaretz Correspondents
The Justice Ministry on Sunday afternoon banned all entry to the Knesset office of Balad party chairman MK Azmi Bishara, hours after he submitted his resignation from parliament at Israel’s embassy in Cairo.

The leader of the Israeli Arab party was quoted Saturday as saying in Egypt that he was considering staying abroad because he feared a long jail sentence and an end to his political career.

A court-imposed gag order prohibits publication of suspicions against Bishara or details of police investigations into the allegations.

Israeli Ambassador to Egypt Shalom Cohen and his deputy, who were present when Bishara submitted the letter, confirmed that he had resigned.

Bishara explained that he does not want to allow lawmakers, particularly rightists, “to hold a festival” over the issue of lifting his immunity as a member of Knesset and deposing him as a member of the parliament.

Bishara added that he did not wish to turn the matter into a campaign of incitement against him personally and against the Arab public as a whole.

In an interview with Al-Jazeera following the resignation, Bishara said he was aware that the step would end his parliamentary immunity and that his status would be that of a regular citizen, such that Israel could arrest him or demand his extradition.

He added that he has “no intention of hiding.”

Bishara, who left Israel about a month ago, added that he has no intention of being far from his homeland.

“I will no doubt return, but I will choose the timing of my return by myself,” he said. “This depends on many factors, including consultations with my friends in Israel and in the Arab world.”

Bishara said he would not allow Israeli security officials to “decide the rules of the game for him,” and that he wanted to set the rules himself.

“Now I have become an ordinary citizen,” he said. “Now there are new rules for the game in which I define the limits, rules where the investigation does not touch my ideological and political position nor my social standing within the Palestinian people.”

A fiery Arab nationalist lawmaker, Bishara told a group of Egyptian intellectuals late Saturday that he might not return to Israel, to avoid a trial.

“I will not venture going back while these threats still stand,” Bishara was quoted as saying by the intellectuals meeting with him. They spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

They also said that Bishara claimed the accusations are politically motivated and aim at ending his political activities, but had ruled out the possibility of resigning from the Knesset.

Bishara declined to talk to reporters on the record because no official charges have been raised yet.

In his letter of resignation, addressed to Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik, Bishara wrote: “During my work in the Knesset I did my best to represent the universal values in which I believe, such as equality and democracy, human rights and just peace between the peoples.”

“I also acted to loyally represent all citizens, in particular the Arab citizens,” he said.

“I can look back and say with satisfaction that I contributed to the development of a new parliamentary discussion regarding the Arab population as a collective nation and the concept of citizenship,” he continued. “Since the last elections, I arrived at a decision to resign and make time for public activism, as well as contemplative and literary writing.”

Bishara met Saturday morning in Cairo with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit, according to a report featured Saturday on an Arabic-language Web site considered to be affiliated with the party.

According to the report, Balad MK Wasil Taha was also present at the meeting.

The Web site indicated that the two lawmakers arrived in Egypt on Thursday for a meeting with Egyptian officials and with “thinkers and cultural figures.”

The meeting reportedly lasted one hour, and dealt with political issues such as Egyptian diplomatic efforts and the Arab peace initiative.

Bishara has in the past angered many in Israel by openly identifying with Syria and with Lebanon’s Hezbollah militants. Critics charge he has encouraged violent attacks against Israel, which Bishara denies.

Israeli police have confirmed that they were investigating Bishara’s case.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld has said there was an inquiry against Bishara by the Israeli police international crime and investigations unit. He said the court forbade disclosing any other details, including what charges Bishara might face, until the gag order expires on April 23.

Last week, Bishara confirmed his intention to resign from the Knesset on Thursday, telling the Nazareth-based newspaper Hadith A-Nas that he is being persecuted.

Several days, later, he told Al-Jazeera in a televised interview Sunday that an ongoing criminal investigation against him has left him with three options – martyrdom, exile, or prison.

In Israel, his party issued a statement denouncing what it called a witch hunt and calling on authorities to lift the gag order and allow Bishara to clear his name. It said it was considering petitioning Israel’s Supreme Court on Bishara’s behalf.

The Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court ruled on Sunday that the press could discuss the existence of the probe into Bishara’s activities, but not its substance, lifting a rare court order which had forbidden even the publication of the existence of a gag order.

Next week, the Knesset House Committee is expected to discuss revoking some of the benefits Bishara receives as a Knesset member. The benefits that may be revoked include free newspapers and funds given to stay in contact with the public, but not his monthly salary.

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