Rules of the game have changed, Bishara says
Balad chairman says time has come to respond to many details published about him this week. In first interview with Israeli Arab radio since his disappearance he adds he is considering returning to Israel in light of 'the new rules of the game,' but does not say when he plans to come back
Balad Chairman MK Azmi Bishara said Friday it was time to respond to the information being "fed" to the public by the media. He said someone else "could have been proud of the accusations" against him, which would gain him much support among the Arab public, but that he rejected them.
"When they (the accusations) are published, I will be able to respond to them," Bishara said in an interview with Israeli Arab radio al-Shams on Friday.
When asked to explain his long stay abroad, Bishara said, "No one asked me anything when I left…I said I was going on an Easter vacation in Amman and then this whole mess started."
Bishara said that he consulted with family and friends and decided that he should first respond to the Arab media in Israel, "since this is my public," he explained.
Bishara told the interviewer that he was considering returning to Israel, saying, "The rules to the game have completely changed. When you hear the accusations against me you will understand that the rules have changed."
He continued to explain that he would rather not rush into taking any steps, so as to make the right decision.
When asked about reports saying that he had asked for political asylum abroad, Bishara said, "These reports are unfounded. I am an MK whose immunity has not yet been lifted and I have the right to travel. I decided to take advantage of the Knesset's recess and the holiday."
Bishara is not afraid of being accused of abusing his immunity as an MK, and said, "If I resign, they will say I resigned because I don’t want to face the situation. If I don’t resign, they will say I am holding on to immunity. You can't please everyone, even if they have good intentions."
'We are original owners of this land'During the interview Bishara stressed that "we must remember that we are the original owners of this land. They want us to act like we are guests in our land, and always prove to them that we are 'okay'. We are no 'okay'. We are the Palestinian Arabs, sons of this land, and we will do whatever is right to resist occupation and aggression."
In interviews to Israeli-Arab newspapers given over the weekend, Bishara said that he was surprised with the "unprecedented and inexplicable incitement campaign" being carried out against him.
In another interview he gave on Thursday Bishara also attacked the Israeli media and those he dubbed "Arab mercenaries who serve the governing establishment," who spoke out against him.
In an interview to Hadith al-Nas, published in Nazereth, he said, "I cannot serve as a member of Knesset if I am being politically persecuted."
He said that he had considered resigning from the Knesset before his trip, but now, in light of the "witch hunt" he was subject to, he was thinking about it more seriously.
Emphasizing that he has managed to sow seeds of a new political culture in Israel, Bishara expressed hope that this would help him succeed in his current struggle.