Attorney General Menachem Mazuz’s decision to launch a criminal investigation against Arab Knesset Member Ahmed Tibi has sparked outrage among Lebanese and Palestinian factions in Beirut.
Last Tuesday it was reported that Mazuz instructed police to launch a criminal investigation against Tibi on suspicion he traveled to Lebanon in May of this year without a permit.
On Friday representatives of Palestinian and Lebanese factions and parties, as well as Lebanese parliament members, held a special rally in Beirut to show their support for Tibi.
“Lebanon loves you and everything you represent. They will never manage to cut the cord linking the Arabs of 1949 to their brothers in Lebanon," one representative said during the rally, which was organized by the Lebanese Journalists Association and broadcast live on Arab television network Al-Jazeera.
Tibi addressed the conference over the phone, saying, “Lebanon is a beloved country and the Lebanese nation is great,” he said. “The connection between us will not be severed despite the investigations and courts. I bow my head once again to all those who died in Sabra and Shatila (refuge
camps in Lebanon) because they were Palestinian.”
The affair began in February, after Tibi traveled to Lebanon without applying for a permit, as required by law. Notably, Lebanon is defined by law as an enemy state.
Following the trip, Mazuz looked into the matter and decided not to resort to criminal proceedings, partly because of clarifications issued by Tibi through the media.
Tibi warned before
In April, Mazuz’s office turned to Tibi and stressed that the ban on traveling to enemy countries applies to Knesset members as well.
In a letter, Tibi was told that he would need to apply for a special Interior Ministry permit if he wished to travel to Lebanon again.
However, in an interview to Lebanese newspaper al-Safir, Tibi revealed he did travel to Lebanon again, in May. In the interview, Tibi said he made the trip in order to “bow his head over those who fell victim on behalf of Palestine.”
Following the revelations, Mazuz discovered that Tibi again failed to acquire the proper permit for the trip. This time, however, the attorney general ordered the criminal investigation and informed Tibi of the decision.
Tibi said in response to the decision, “I did not traveled to Lebanon, a country I do not regard as an enemy, to violate the law. I went there to meet with politicians, men of letters, and friends after I had received a formal invitation from the Lebanese government.”
“The law is a political one that is aimed against the Arab public and its leaders,” he said. “I will continue to bow my head boldly to the victims of the war and occupation.”