Photo: Oren Aharoni
Photo: Oren Aharoni

Israeli-Arab party officials arrested on suspicion of fraud

Officials and supporters from the Israeli-Arab political party Balad have been arrested on suspicion of fraud; they are suspected of trying to hide the sources of campaign funding and the sources of funding for various Balad party projects.

High ranking officials in the Israeli-Arab political party Balad are under suspicion for corruption, the Israel Police reported on Sunday.



"The National Unit of the Israel Police, in conjunction with various other police forces, have carried out searches and have detained more than 20 people throughout the country. Amongst those detained were high ranking members of the Balad party, lawyers, and accountants. They have been arrested on suspicion of their involvement in several cases of fraud concerning monies obtained and used for campaign financing."


"It is suspected that the people involved in fundraising were hiding the sources of funding, while at the same time committing various offenses which centered around aggravated fraud, falsifying corporate documents, forgery, use of forged documents, money laundering, and Violations of the Party Financing Law and Local Authorities Law, amongst others," the police continued.  



Balad primaries in 2015
Balad primaries in 2015


The case, called case 274, was discovered following the State Comptroller's Report.


The Israel Police said that its forces carried out "a search of the suspects' houses and offices, including Balad party offices, and obtained documents and materials, as well as assets and bank accounts related to those involved for further requests and forfeiture purposes."


The police also said that "a State Comptroller's Audit, which was carried out in conjunction with an undercover investigation by the National Unit of the Israel Police, formed the basis of the indictment against the Balad officials and members. They, together with other lawyers and accountants, allegedly managed a system whereby they were able to hide the origins of millions of shekels of Balad Party money which they used to fund their projects. They did all of this while committing fraud against the authorities and the state comptroller."


"The party allegedly received millions of shekels from donors from within Israel and from abroad, and fraudulently reported the amount of funding from hundreds of donors from within Israel."


"The investigation began with the approval of former Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein in accordance with the state prosecutor's recommendation," the police's statement continued.


"The investigation has been handled by the State Prosecutor's Office from the outset, and the State Prosecutor's Office and the Attorney General were updated as to all developments throughout the investigation. Investigations requiring the utmost discretion were brought up for approval by the Attorney General."


Balad party officials responded by saying "Balad condemns in the harshest possible terms the arrest of dozens of its activists, and stresses that this is a dangerous escalation, and constitutes yet another layer in the campaign to politically persecute the Arab minority (in Israel) in general, and the (Arab) political movements in particular."


The party strongly rejects the allegations against it, and stresses that it conducts its party and financial manners in accordance with the law. They argue that these fraud allegations are being done to cover up the fact that the Israeli government wants to silence Balad, and to impair Balad's role as a "spearhead of the struggle against oppression and discrimination and the denial of rights."


In April, Balad MK Hanin Zoabi said during a panel discussion in Nazareth that her and her party views Israeli-Arabs as "part of the overall Palestinian nation, and that Balad views itself as part of the Palestinian national cause - not part of the Israeli left - and that it was at the forefront of the national Palestinian liberation project."


Balad further stresses that it's not clear why the issue of party funding warranted a wave of arrests in the middle of the night. The statement argued that these arrests can be viewed as a way to frighten and intimidate (supporters), and to tarnish the party's name.


They claimed that these arrests were done with a fascist air about them, and out of racism against the Arab public as a whole.


The party further said that any attempt to persecute Balad will fail, and that the entire issue is just a "storm in a teacup."


פרסום ראשון: 09.18.16, 09:22
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