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Blog Describes Bishara Charges

Although Israel-based journalists are barred from publishing the particulars of the Azmi Bishara case, some details have been reported in Arab media outlets and in the blogosphere. One of the most explicit and seemingly reliable accounts appeared in the Tikun Olam Web site of Seattle blogger Richard Silverstein, who is a frequent critic of Israeli policy and is sympathetic to Jewish causes.

Silverstein reports, quoting the Bethlehem-based, nonparty Palestinian news agency Ma’an, that Bishara is under investigation for two suspected violations. He is believed to have accepted $5 million that was passed to him through two East Jerusalem moneychangers. He is also suspected of communicating with Hezbollah representatives during the war in Lebanon last summer. The Ma’an story is based on unidentified Israeli sources.

A separate source, the Hebrew-language Web site Left Bank, reports that Israeli security services have been tapping Bishara’s telephone for the past year. “There is only one way for the Shin Bet to eavesdrop on a Knesset member,” Silverstein reported. “That is by getting approval of the Supreme Court. This indicates that the charges against him are serious and perhaps credible, since they have been vetted by Israel’s highest court.”

According to a third source, whom Silverstein does not name, Bishara is suspected of speaking, during the war, with Lebanese journalists in Cairo and Amman who were allegedly affiliated with Hezbollah.

The $5 million, whose original source remains unclear, is believed to have been taken by Bishara for personal purposes, not political ones, suggesting that the authorities are seeking to build a case of corruption.

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