Balad Lawmakers Zoabi, Zahalka to Be Questioned by Police

Investigation into financial irregularities by the Israeli Arab party is expected to expand in coming days.

Balad MKs Haneen Zoabi, Jamal Zahalka and Basel Ghattas.
Emil Salman

The investigation into financial irregularities and possible violations of the Parties Funding Law by the Balad party is expected to expand in the coming days when police speak to two of the party’s Knesset members.

Haaretz has learned that Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit has authorized the questioning of MKs Jamal Zahalka and Haneen Zoabi of Balad, which is one of the component parties of the Joint Arab List. Balad attorneys and the Justice Ministry sources confirmed this development. It still isn’t clear whether the two will be questioned or just asked to make a statement; that decision will be made based on the evidence that police have accumulated.

The Justice Ministry said that it could not confirm or deny whether the attorney general had authorized any kind of action relating to an ongoing investigation. The police gave a similar response.

Balad officials and its attorneys believe that police are en route to recruiting a state’s witness, a former party activist who was exposed to financial irregularities and who had already confronted several of the suspects in the case.

Meanwhile, the Haifa Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday released six Balad officials who still in custody, including former general secretary Awad Abd al-Fatah, but extended the detention of Morad Hadad, who had been a party administrator, until Sunday. Hadad has spent the past couple of days in hospital after he complained of weakness and chest pains.

The police had wanted to extend al-Fatah’s detention for another week, but he was released Wednesday evening against police wishes. Al-Fatah had maintained his right to remain silent over the past few days, after giving evidence earlier, when the investigation had started.