In response to a petition submitted by MK Azmi Bishara (Balad) on Wednesday, Israeli High Court of Justice restored his parliamentary immunity and dismissed charges that he allegedly supported a terrorist organization.
Bishara’s troubles began in August 2000 shortly after Israel’s withdrawal from South Lebanon in May that year. In a speech he gave in Umm al-Fahm in 2000, and again on the first anniversary of the death of Syrian President Hafez Assad, in Damascus in 2002, he praised Hezbollah and the armed struggle against Israel. He called for "expanding the sphere of resistance" against "Israel’s dictates" so that "people can carry on with the struggle."
Israeli Former attorney general Elyakim Rubinstein filed the indictment following the two speeches by Bishara. But, in his petition to the court, Bishara said that his speeches were protected by legal immunity, which is granted to all Knesset members in order to allow them to fulfill their duties.
In the indictment, Bishara was charged with "on two separate occasions, on a public stage and under the media’s scrutiny: vocally publicizing his praise and encouragement of violent acts likely to cause death and injury and carrying out an act in public that identifies him with a terror group or sympathy for it."
Bishara said in court that the decision to bring him to trial was politically motivated.