Former Israeli MK, spying for Hezbollah, funneled money to Arab party

Former Arab-Israeli MK who fled Israel for Qatar after allegedly spying for Hezbollah reportedly sent suitcases of cash back to the Arab-Israeli Balad party to cover its mounting debts.

By World Israel News Staff

An Arab party in the Knesset received millions of shekels in cash smuggled into the country by a former lawmaker suspected of spying for a terrorist organization, Israel Hayom reported Wednesday.

In 2007, Azmi Bishara, then an MK for the Arab nationalist party Balad, fled Israel, eventually taking up residence in Qatar.

Bishara posted his resignation as a Member of the Knesset from the Israeli Embassy in Egypt, after being accused of spying on behalf of the Lebanon-based Hezbollah terrorist organization.

According to newly published information obtained by Israel Hayom, it appears that the Balad party maintained ties with the disgraced former MK for years after his departure from Israel.

After moving to Qatar, Bishara reportedly funneled 2 million shekels ($600,000) to party officials, smuggling the cash into Israel through stuffed suitcases.

Investigators suspected the party’s leadership of fraud, the report said, when it was discovered that Balad had rapidly paid off its 2.5 million shekel debt in 2013.

Thirteen party officials and activists linked to Balad were arrested in 2012 and 2013 while attempting to smuggle cash-filled suitcases into Israel from Jordan, thanks in part to Erez Ofir, who exposed the fraud.

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“I have been auditing factions for years, and I have never come across such a serious case,” Ofir testified. “I noticed that all the donations are in the amounts of two thousand shekels and more. In my experience, such amounts are not donated. This made me suspect that this was a fictitious registration of donations.”

While Balad claimed that the money had been raised from local donors, police found that the alleged donors listed in the party’s receipts denied having ever given money to Balad and insisted that their signatures were forged.

The 13 suspects arrested in the case were convicted as part of a plea bargain in October of last year.

Among those convicted last October was former MK Hanin Zoabi

The party denied Wednesday’s report, calling it an “attempt to tarnish the party and its members.”

“This is political persecution. The attorney’s office retracted all the accusations and signed a plea agreement. At no point in the case was Balad founder Azmi Bashara’s name linked to what happened, and the attempt to do so is baseless. The involved Balad members acted for the benefit of the party’s public goals, and none of them made personal profit.”