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Former Israeli Lawmaker, 12 Others Indicted for Fraud

Israeli state prosecutors filed indictments on Wednesday against former Knesset member Hanin Zoabi and 12 others linked to the Balad party have been indicted for forgery and fraud. They are expected to plead guilty to the charges as part of a plea bargain that will result in suspected sentences, fines of tens of thousands of shekels and community service. Zoabi, known for her firebrand rhetoric in support of Balad’s Palestinian nationalist positions, stands accused of submitting forged documents to the state comptroller between 2013 and 2016 to systemically misrepresent the source of millions of shekels in funds that the party received for the 2013 and 2015 election campaigns. A total of 36 people were questioned in the financial irregularities case. Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit said after a pretrial hearing in April that “after considering the substance of the claims at the hearing and the legal opinion presented to me, I reached the general conclusion that there is an evidentiary basis and public interest to put Ms. Zoabi on trial.” He would not, however, charge other senior Balad officials, despite evidence of their guilt. “The possible harm of putting a party on trial is expected to not only harm its current leadership or founders or owners, but also a wider circle of citizens who have an attachment to the party and identify with its goals and public positions,” he explained.