Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
Balad MKs Ghates Basel (in jail) Hanin Zoabi (ousted), and Jamal Zahalka (resigned).

Former Arab Member of Knesset (MK) Hanin Zoabi and 12 other defendants, some of them former senior officials in the Arab Balad party, were convicted on Monday of offenses of fraud and forgery.

The conviction is part of a plea agreement in which the defendants pleaded guilty to the offenses attributed to them, and petitioned for the imposition of agreed-upon sentences, including prison sentences that will be carried out through community service, probation, and fines ranging from NIS 25,000-75,000.

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The corruption charges relate to fraudulent actions committed during the Israeli-Arab political party’s 2013 election campaign, during which funds raised by the party were misreported.

The Balad party was found guilty of having reported that NIS 3.2 million were donated by hundreds of donors in Israel, when in fact the funds were received from other sources, both in Israel and abroad, including from Arab countries.

According to the conviction, the party officials faked thousands of receipts and fabricated a list of donors in order to comply with election finance laws. Most of the fraudulent activity took place during 2013, but the forgery continued throughout 2016.

Balad Party members 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.

Another 35 officials have been arrested and questioned in connection with the corruption case.

The Balad party claimed the allegations and investigation were politically motivated.

Zoabi did not publicly respond to her conviction.

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Aryeh Savir is director of the International division of Tazpit News Agency.