Police investigating extremist Arab party Balad

Investigation over suspected illegal donations during 2013 election campaign. Party claims investigation is scare attempt, racism.

Matt Wanderman ,

Balad MKs
Balad MKs
Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Police have opened an investigation into the Balad party over suspected illegal donations during the 2013 election campaign. Party officials claim that all of the money was collected in accordance with the finance laws.

Senior Balad members told Haaretz that the investigation only began in the past few weeks and expressed suspicion that it is an intentional attack. "There's no doubt that there is a well-oiled machine that is currently working against the party. This is one more incident in the incitement campaign being led by the government and the Knesset against Arab MKs, and Balad in particular."

A field operative says that at least 150 members have been questioned or provided testimony. "They told some people to come to the police station without explaining why. When they arrived they found that the issue was over donations to Balad in the past few years." He added that "No one was arrested and no restrictions were placed on anyone, but everyone was warned not to speak about the investigation."

Party head Jamal Zahalka insists that the investigation is an example of the persecution faced by Balad members. "The investigation is being carried out in a manner that casts fear on the activists, as part of an attempt to hurt the party and its actions among the Arab public as a whole."

The police released a statement following Balad's accusations, saying: "We neither affirm nor deny the existence of an investigation or actions allegedly carried out as part of an investigation." The State Comptroller's office refused to comment.

Balad is one of the parties making up the Joint List. It supports removing all Jewish characteristics from Israel, as well as making a separate state specifically for Palestinians. On several occasions its members have traveled to Syria and Lebanon in order to encourage attacks on Israel, but they usually avoided criminal charges by claiming diplomatic immunity.