Mayor of Afula Arrested in Corruption Case

Yitzhak Meron, the mayor of Afula, is accused of appointing his deputy mayor in exchange for NIS 4 million from Yisrael Beytenu.

Cynthia Blank ,

Israel news photo: Flash 90

The scope of the corruption case against political party Yisrael Beytenu continues to grow. 

On Monday morning the Mayor of Afula, Yitzhak Meron, was arrested on suspicion of involvement in the corruption case. His Deputy Mayor, Boris Yodis, a member of Yisrael Beytenu, was arrested as well. Both had their remands extended by three days. 

Meron is suspected of appointing Yodis to the position of deputy mayor in exchange for four million shekels ($1 million) worth of funds transferred to the Afula Municipality by Yisrael Beytenu's coalitions. 

Yodis and Meron, who were brought in for questioning Monday, have both denied the allegations. Meron even insisted on representing himself during the discussion, saying, "it never happened, and I can prove it." 

Following the accumulation of evidence in recent weeks, the Municipality of Afula was raided in the morning. Searches were also conducted in the suspects' homes and their offices. 

In November 2014, several city council members petitioned against the appointment of Yodis, but their petition was rejected. 

They subsequently passed whatever information they had on Yodis to police. This information is believed to have contributed to evidence against Meron and Yodis, culminating in their arrests. 

Another suspect in the case whose remand was extended for three days on Monday is Rami Tayeb, the Chief of Staff for Minister of Strategic Affairs, Yuval Steinitz (Likud). 

Tayeb is suspected of mediating bribes. 

Steinitz's spokesman responded to Tayeb's arrest, saying, "The Minister relies on law enforcement to do their jobs well. The Minister hopes it becomes clear there was no defect in the conduct of his political advisor." 

Earlier Monday, Deputy Interior Minister Faina Kirshenbaum (Yisrael Beytenu), an early suspect in the massive corruption case, announced that she has decided to resign from the Knesset.

"With a heavy heart and after an extended period of indecision, I have decided that under these circumstances I cannot be investigated in a proper way and I have decided – for lack of an alternative – to remain silent,” she reportedly said.

“Since I accept that choosing to remain silent has many meanings, I decided not to run in the next elections and to devote my time to defending my innocence and helping my family recover,” she added.