Israeli Arab lawmakers questioned over party corruption

Israeli officials are investigating the Israeli Arab Balad political party for possible corruption and illicit activities.

Israeli-Arab Members of Knesset (MK) Hanin Zoabi and Jamal Zahalka, of the Israeli Arab Balad political party, were questioned on Monday in connection with the corruption scandal that is rocking their party.

The two may subsequently be implicated in the incident pursuant to the questioning.

Balad claims the crackdown is political persecution, calling the questioning of the MKs “a dangerous escalation” against the “Arab minority.”

Party activists protested outside the police station, saying the investigation was politically motivated and was an attempt to silence their voices.

Zoabi, before entering for her questioning, did not deny the allegations and said she would continue with the illicit activities.

The police suspect party activists have been involved in a money laundering ring to defraud the Israeli government by misrepresenting the origin of millions of shekels. Balad reported the money to have been donated from hundreds of donors in Israel, but police suspect the funds were in fact received from other sources, both in Israel and abroad, including from Arab countries.

Balad Party members allegedly committed a series of financial offenses, including money laundering, false reporting, forgery, receiving an object by deception under aggravated circumstances and numerous violations of the Political Parties Financing Law.

At least 36 officials have been arrested and questioned in connection with the corruption case, which has been under overt investigation for the past several weeks, after being investigated covertly for years.

Balad is part of the Joint List faction in the Israeli parliament, a conglomeration of three Arab-majority parties, and describes itself as a “national party for the Palestinian citizens of Israel.” Its MKs have been involved in anti-Israel activities and have made numerous anti-Israel provocative statements.

By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News