Hadash Official Says State Guilty of Political Harassment

Party's Knesset whip complains about questioning over illegal construction

The Jewish-Arab Hadash party filed a complaint with State Comptroller Micah Lindenstrauss accusing two Interior Ministry investigators of political harassment against its Knesset faction secretary, who is suspected of committing building violations.

According to an affidavit submitted to Lindenstrauss, attorney Kais Nasser said that faction secretary Maha El-Nakib was questioned by officials from the ministry's building supervisory inspection office over an alleged structure built near her home in Lod.

The complaint alleges that during questioning, El-Nakib was shown pictures of her nine-year-old son despite there being no connection between the photos and the subject of the ministry's inquiry.

According to El-Nakib, one of the investigators remarked how she was a candidate on a partly list for the Lod municipal elections, and that he was in possession of photographs of her campaigning.

After she protested the ministry's possession of the photographs, the investigators made it known that the pictures were collected as evidence "belonging to another case."

El-Nakib filed a complaint with Lindenstrauss because she feared that an investigation of alleged building violations has turned into "a security or political case."

"This is antithetical to the standards of a democratic system of government, the rule of law, and proper administration," she wrote in her complaint.

Interior Ministry spokeswoman Efrat Orbach replied that El-Nakib had confessed to building violations on agricultural lands, resulting in a fine and a demolition order against the structure in question.

After violating the court's order by not razing the structure, she was hit with another fine and placed on probation.

According to Orbach, El-Nakib was summoned for questioning as part of a case involving the failure to adhere to court orders. The spokeswoman also said that the investigation was handled well and that El-Nakib signed a witness statement after requesting to correct an earlier version of her story.

Orbach refuted claims that the case was politically motivated, adding that the building inspectors acted in good faith.

El-Nakib's lawyer told Haaretz that the District Planning Committee retroactively approved the structure near El-Nakib's home in order to "remedy the continued discrimination of Arab residents of [the Lod neighborhood of] Pardes Shnir."