Photo Credit: Kobi Richter / TPS
Joint Arab List MK Jamal Zahalka (June 2017)

Joint Arab List Knesset member Jamal Zahalka told an interviewer Wednesday that a police recommendation to prosecute all three Balad Party Knesset members is all about political persecution against the Arab community.

“No other politicians or political parties would be treated this way,” Zahalka told Israel’s Kan Bet Public Radio.

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“The police came in the middle of the night, broke into our offices, arrested people and subjected people to very tough interrogations. I am confident the state prosecutor will ultimately throw the whole investigation in the garbage,” he added.

On Tuesday, Israel Police recommended filing indictments against Zahalka and fellow Balad Knesset members Hanin Zoabi and Jouma Azbarga Joumah Azbarga charges of 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 during the 2013 and 2015 campaigns. When the report was released, more than 20 suspects were detained, including senior Balad activists who served as accountants and lawyers.

Police forwarded their conclusions to the State Prosecutor for a final decision.

Balad holds three Knesset seats as part of the Joint List Party, the third-largest party in the Knesset, as a conglomerate of three Arab-majority parties (the others are Ra’am Tal, headed by MK Ahmad Tibi, and Hadash, headed by faction chairman Ayman Odeh). Together, the list holds 13 of the 120 seats in parliament.

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