Photo Credit: Courtesy the Knesset

The police have completed their criminal investigation of the Balad party and on Tuesday announced that there exists an evidentiary basis against senior party officials for fraud, forgery and other offenses. The police recommend that MKs Hanin Zoabi, Jamal Jamal Zahalka and Joumah Azbarga of Balad party be indicted on fraud, forgery, money laundering, cheating, breach of trust, and violations of integrity.

The police investigation, conducted by the Lahav 433 special crimes unit, was opened following the State Comptroller’s report on the party’s donations and expenses. When the report was released, more than 20 suspects were detained, including senior Balad activists who served as accountants and lawyers.

 Balad, whose name stands for the Hebrew acronym National Democratic Assembly, describes itself as a “democratic progressive national party for the Palestinian citizens of Israel.” Its stated purpose is the “struggle to transform the state of Israel into a democracy for all its citizens, irrespective of national or ethnic identity.” It opposes the idea of Israel as a solely Jewish state, and supports its recasting as a binational state.

Since the party’s formation, it has objected to every proposed state budget on the grounds that they discriminate against the Arab population.

The Tuesday recommendation to indict ends the police investigation into Balad, which focused on failure to report money donations during the 2013 elections, expenses during the 2015 elections. At the time, police raided the suspects’ homes, offices, and party centers, confiscated documents and seized assets and bank accounts for forfeiture. The investigators estimated that the party concealed money received from more than a thousand private donors and organizations in Israel and around the world.