Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein is planning to seek the removal from office of the Mayor of Natzrat Illit (Upper Nazareth), Shimon Gapso, due to an indictment against him. Officials in the State Prosecution have informed the High Court of Weinstein’s plans.
A new law passed by Knesset in December created a special committee with the power to suspend mayors indicted on corruption charges.
According to Yisrael Hayom, Weinstein will file a request to depose Gapso to the special committee for examining indictments against mayors and regional council heads. The committee will decide whether the charges against Gapso make it impossible for him to continue as mayor.
Weinstein previously filed a similar request regarding the Mayor of Bat Yam, Shlomo Lahiani. He criticized as “extremely unreasonable” the decision of Bat Yam’s city council not to depose Lahiani, who has been indicted on charges of bribery and fraud.
Gapso, too, is facing bribery charges. Like Lahiani, he was reelected in October 2013 despite the allegations of corruption.
He argued following his reelection that “the public has spoken.” He also revealed that despite being temporarily barred from office prior to the elections, he had continued as the de-facto mayor during that time.
Gapso has been a controversial figure for some time due to his unapologetic campaign to keep Natzrat Illit a majority-Jewish city. He has refused to create a Muslim school in the town, and flies the world’s largest Israeli flag over his home.