Beit Shemesh demonstration over vote-rigging
Beit Shemesh demonstration over vote-rigging Israel news photo: Flash 90

The Attorney General and Legal Advisor to the Government, Yehuda Weinstein, submitted an official appeal Wednesday to the Jerusalem District Court regarding the results of recent municipal elections in Beit Shemesh.

Weinstein asks that the court order an annulment of the election results, based on a police investigation that found a “reasonable cause to suspect” that the elections were tainted by “impersonation.” 

Eli Cohen, who ran for mayor of Beit Shemesh, has also officially appealed the results of the elections. Cohen was narrowly defeated by incumbent candidate Moshe Abutbul, but the results were marred by allegations of widespread fraud among Abutbul’s supporters.

Police are currently investigating cases of fraud. 

“The elections in Beit Shemesh deviated significantly from the norm in Israel,” attorneys Ariel Nissim and Eitan Haverman argued in the appeal.

“These aren’t the kind of mistakes or crimes that have turned up over the years in municipal elections. This is something particularly serious, both because a complex, well-oiled system was set up for throwing the elections, and due to the apparent scale of it,” they said.

They hinted that Abutbul was to blame. “It seems that in these elections, candidates knowingly chose a criminal strategy of swaying the elections results,” they accused.

Cohen: We owe it to our voters

Cohen, whose appeal has won support from Zionist political factions in the city, said, “We’re standing up for truth and demanding justice. We must act for the sake of fairness… We can’t just throw up our hands in the face of the widespread fraud that took place in Beit Shemesh.”

“Fewer than one thousand votes decided the elections, and there are reports that the forgeries numbered much higher,” he continued. “We are here to demand respect for democracy, in parallel to the police investigation and the Attorney General’s work.”

“Our responsibility to those who voted for us requires us to act,” he added.

According to earlier reports, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein is considering appealing the results of the elections in Beit Shemesh and asking a court to order repeat elections. Thousands of Beit Shemesh residents have called for elections to be repeated as well.

Police continue to investigate allegations according to which a group of Beit Shemesh men used the ID cards and passports of residents who were not planning to vote in order to cast fraudulent votes.