The two front-runners in the Beit Shemesh mayoral race, incumbent mayor Moshe Abutbul and challenger Eli Cohen, reacted Tuesday to the news that the city will hold a revote in just one month.
Abutbul won the city elections in 2013 by just over 950 votes. The results of the vote were ultimately discarded due to allegations of widespread fraud.
Abutbul reiterated past warnings that Israel’s court system is invalidating a legal election. “I wasn’t surprised by the ruling,” he said Tuesday, “but I was surprised at the ease with which democracy can be erased, with which the public’s clear choice can be made blurry.”
From this point forward, he said, “We are less focused on the Supreme Court decision, which, to be honest, we didn’t have high hopes for, and more focused on organizing the elections."
“We are starting off even stronger, with parties that weren’t with us the first time, so the path to a second victory is smooth and clear,” he declared.
“That is, if the court system does not continue to intervene until it gets what it considers a ‘good’ result,” he added. The intervention was meant to stop Beit Shemesh from becoming a hareidi-majority city, he argued, saying, “Someone thought they could defeat demographics.”
Eli Cohen, the mayoral candidate supported by Zionist parties, held a press conference Tuesday evening. “I believe that love of G-d, love of the land [of Israel], and love of one’s fellow man go together,” he declared. “We in Beit Shemesh will prove that the common factor to all those things is love of truth."
“I believe that the truth will out, and those who believe are not afraid,” he said.