The suspension of Nazareth Illit Mayor Shimon Gapso was extended by five months Sunday, as he awaits verdicts in two bribery cases against him. He was initially suspended from his duty in March, and then again in July. The decision to extend the suspension was taken by a special committee for suspension of local authority heads, headed by retired jusge Moshe Gal.
Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein wanted the committee to suspend Gapso until verdicts are given, without specifying the duration of the suspension. The committee refused to do this.
The first charge sheet filed against Gapso, in June of 2013, alleges that he took a bribe, and that he and his deputy caused the ex-wife of a city councillor to be fired from her job, because he refused to step down.
The second indictment, filed against Gapso in May of this year, is for bribery and breach of trust. It charges that he promised jobs to various activists in his campaign for mayor in 2008.
Gapso was reelected in October 2013 despite the allegations of corruption. He argued following his reelection that “the public has spoken” and that the people believe he is being wrongly persecuted. 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 Nazareth Illit a majority-Jewish city. He has refused to create a Muslim school in the town, and flies what is said to be the world’s largest Israeli flag over his home.