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Israel accuses Palestinian MP of giving prisoners phones

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Ghatos should be 'severely punished' if he is proved to have acted illegally
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (AFP/file photos)

Israeli police on Sunday accused an Israeli opposition MP of providing mobile phones to two jailed Palestinians.

Police said several mobile phones were found in the possession of Basel Ghattas when he visited the Ketziot prison in southern Israel last week.

Ghattas belongs to Balad, a small nationalist Arab party allied with the Joint List, which holds 13 of the 120 seats in parliament, and is the third-largest bloc in the legislature.

Palestinian citizens of Israel - who make up around 18 percent of Israel's population - are the descendants of Palestinians who remained on their land after the creation of Israel in 1948. They hold Israeli citizenship, but largely see themselves as Palestinians.

Police tried to question Ghattas about the devices, but he initially refused, citing parliamentary immunity.

The government's legal adviser then authorised them to pursue their investigation, police said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a statement released by his office, said Ghattas should be "severely punished" if the investigation proves he was acting illegally.

Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman denounced Ghattas on his Facebook page.

"This is extra proof that the Joint List is in fact a unified list of traitors and spies," he said.