Police recommend indictment of Israeli Arab lawmakers for corruption

Israel’s police recommends indictment of members of the Israeli Arab Balad political party for corruption and illicit activities.

By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News

Israel’s police announced Tuesday that it has concluded its investigation into a corruption scandal that is rocking the Israeli-Arab Balad political party, and has recommended that Members of Knesset (MK) Hanin Zoabi, Jamal Zahalka, Jamma Azbarga and Basel Ghattas be indicted.

Ghattas is currently serving a two-year prison term after pleading guilty to charges that he used his parliamentary immunity to help imprisoned Palestinians commit more acts of terror.

The police also recommended that other party officials be indicted.

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 year, after being investigated covertly for years.

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

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 provocative anti-Israel statements.