Beit Shemesh Reelections on March 11

Minister of the Interior sets date for new elections; hareidi MKs voice frustration with Supreme Court.

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Maayana Miskin,

Posters calling for new Beit Shemesh election
Posters calling for new Beit Shemesh election

Minister of the Interior Gidon Saar has set a date for reelections in the city of Beit Shemesh. The city will go back to the polls on March 11, 2014.

The Supreme Court upheld a decision to call for new elections in the city in the wake of allegations of widespread fraud. Police arrested several men on elections day who had hundreds of ID cards that were not their own, and residents of the city have alleged other elections-day irregularities as well.

Supporters of incumbent mayor Moshe Abutbul of the hareidi Shas party, who won the original elections by roughly 950 votes, have accused the Supreme Court of calling for a revote for political reasons. They argue that the alleged fraud was not on a scale that could have affected the outcome of the vote.

MK Yaakov Asher of the hareidi Yahadut Hatorah (UTJ) party accused the court Tuesday of having called for reelections in the city of Nazareth solely to normalize the ruling regarding Beit Shemesh. “My sympathy to those living in Nazareth, who are stuck with reelections just because of the Supreme Court decision to hold reelections in Beit Shemesh,” he said.

“Who said politics is just for the Knesset?” he added.

Deputy Minister of Transportation Tzipi Hotovely (Likud Beytenu) praised the decision to go back to the polls. “I welcome the court’s ruling, which sends a message of deterrence… In future elections it will be clear that the eye of the law is watching, and that anyone who wants to play the democratic game will need to abide by the rules.”

In the ruling on the Beit Shemesh case, justice Uzi Fogelman stated, “The residents of the city of Beit Shemesh, and the elections that were meant to reflect their democratic wishes, fell victim to an organized, systematic, and widespread campaign of illegal activity, the goal of which was to influence the results of the mayoral and city council elections.”