Bayit Yehudi Demands New Beit Shemesh Vote
The religious-Zionist Bayit Yehudi has demanded that Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein appeal the results of the elections that were recently held at Beit Shemesh, in order to bring about new elections in the city.
Faction chairwoman MK Ayelet Shaked sent a letter in this vein to the Minister of Interior, Gideon Saar (Likud), with a copy to the A-G, after consultation with Party Chairman, Minister of Economics and Trade Naftali Bennett.
Shaked enumerated the suspected irregularities in the election, which saw Shas candidate Moshe Abutbul defeat the secular Eli Cohen, who was supported by Bayit Yehudi, Yesh Atid and Likud.
“As the media reported, numerous mishaps and serious suspicions of irregularities have been exposed regarding the elections at Beit Shemesh,” wrote Shaked. “Because of this, and following a conversation with Bayit Yehudi Chairman, Minister Naftali Bennett, I am asking you to recommend...to the Attorney General to file an appeal for return elections in the city.”
"I wish to stress that we are not talking about scattered accusations,” Shaked insisted. “A system has been discovered; a mechanism of forgery was exposed. It is possible that all the things that were exposed are just the tip of the iceberg, and that the problem is much bigger. In order to prevent abuse of democracy and the repetition of grave deeds in the future, the Israel legal system must act in a determined and deterrent way.”
Abutbul, a hareidi Jew, defeated Cohen by a margin of less than 1,000 votes.
The elections in Beit Shemesh, just 40 minutes from Jerusalem, were seen as having special significance, with many non-hareidi residents fearing that the re-election of a hareidi mayor would stifle development for the city's non-hareidi neighborhoods, ultimately leading Beit Shemesh to become a majority-hareidi city similar to Bnei Brak or Kiryat Sefer, rather than a religiously mixed city.
The residents' claims are based on a police raid the day of the elections on two apartments in the city in which the ID cards of 200 residents who were abroad were found, with police suspecting they were about to be used to vote in the city's elections.
Some voices were calling to divide the city between Zionists and hareidi-religious Jews. "I understand them," said Mayor Abutbul, "it's not easy to lose, but it's important to remember that Beit Shemesh is one city," where he said "everyone benefits from everyone else".