"Israel is trying to accuse me of security offenses. They object to the ideas I promote – like democratic thought, equality and a state for all its citizens, and therefore they claim that my actions were actually a cover for offenses against national security, or that I provided the enemy with information during a time of war," former Knesset Member Azmi Bishara told the Qatar-based al-Jazeera network on Wednesday.
Bishara dismissed the allegations as politically motivated and drummed up to avert the public's attention from Israel's leadership crisis following the results of the Second Lebanon War.
''The timing of the publication of these charges… it originates from the crisis the Israeli leadership is going through, trying to find a way out after the defeat in Lebanon. Now they have someone to blame, Azmi Bishara led to Israel's defeat. No one can accept this, it's very dangerous," said Bishara.
According to the limited details released for publication, Bishara is suspected of collaborating with the enemy, money laundering and several other offenses pertaining to national security.
"This is not a matter of my personal conduct. This is an attempt to make our opinions a security offense or treason, as they call it, or other Israeli terms that we do not recognize. We have clear political opinions, one of my opinions was postponing their (Israel's) aggression during the first week of the war, and clarifying the plot on Lebanon – and this is a position that angered them. It joined other previous positions that made us a 'problem' for the Zionist establishment," said Bishara.
"Since they have understood the danger my ideas pose to Zionism, they have been waging a war against me. Here they have changed the rules of the game and used my cultural and political connections to the Arab world in a negative way to accuse me of security offenses.
"In my opinion, they want to get two messages across – the first, to the Israeli public and the Arab world – that anyone who tries to present a vision of a country for all its citizens should not be listened to because he is only using it as a cover for security offenses, and the second message is to the Arabs in Israel – to terrorize them so that they will not hold these opinions."
Court threatens to lift gag within week
Security sources said that so far the investigation has yielded substantial evidence against Bishara. He is suspected of passing information to the enemy, contacting foreign agents and receiving significant amounts of money from abroad.
Bishara has so far been questioned twice, during the last encounter he told interrogators that he intended to leave Israel for a couple of days. He said he would attend a third questioning upon his return to Israel.
But since then, Bishara has been touring the Arab world for over three weeks.
Following stops in Jordan and Qatar he submitted his resignation from the Knesset at the Israeli Embassy in Egypt. His resignation took effect on Tuesday, 48 hours after it reached Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik.