Israel confirms jail sentence for Druze ex-MP over visit to Syria

Friday 28/08/2015
He visited Syria as part of a delegation of 300 Druze leaders

JERUSALEM - Israel's Supreme Court on Monday confirmed a one-year jail sentence handed down to a Druze former MP for visiting Syria, an "enemy country".
Said Naffaa had appealed a September 2014 verdict sentencing him to 18 months for travelling to Syria and making contact with a "foreign agent".
He went in 2007 to Syria, with which Israel is technically still at war, as part of a delegation of 300 Druze religious leaders.
A member of parliament at the time, he met a leader of the PFLP-General Command, an offshoot of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which Israel designates a "terror organisation".
After Monday's Supreme Court decision, he will now be jailed for one year from October 6, plus six months suspended.
Public radio said the former parliamentarian with the nationalist Arab Balad party also visited the offices of Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal, who was then based in Damascus.
Adalah, an NGO defending the rights of Israeli Arabs, in a statement Monday denounced a conviction it said resulted from "political and not legal considerations".
"The ban on travel to Arab countries is discriminatory and repressive," it said.
Israel has 130,000 Druze citizens out of a population of around eight million. Unlike other Arab citizens of the Jewish state, they are obliged by law to do three years of military service.
The Druze are native to parts of central Lebanon, southern Syria and the Israel-occupied Golan Heights.