Sa'ar on tour in south Tel Aviv 370.
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
Mayors indicted on corruption charges will be suspended from their job,
according to a bill the Knesset Interior Committee unanimously approved on
Wednesday for its final reading.
The Interior Ministry-submitted bill,
which could become law as early as Monday, calls for the formation of a
committee that can decide to suspend mayors following their indictment. The
interior and justice ministers would appoint the panel members.
committee authorized the bill after the Union of Local Authorities withdrew an
objection calling for a suspended mayor to be able to appoint his or her
“This proposal would send a negative message to the public
that, even when the mayor is gone because there is an indictment against him on
corruption charges and a committee found him deserving of a suspension, he can
decide who will take his place,” Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar (Likud Beytenu)
All 13 MKs attending the meeting adopted Sa’ar’s position, which is
that members of the local council should nominate the replacement
Soon thereafter, however, MK Moshe Feiglin (Likud Beytenu) wrote
on Facebook that “once again, a law is taking sovereignty from the nation and
giving it to the courts.”
MK Miki Rosenthal (Labor) demanded that the
special committee meetings’ minutes be publicized, but Sa’ar said too much
transparency would prevent its members from speaking openly. In the end, the
Interior Committee decided that the panel will publicize its conclusions and its
On Tuesday, Knesset Interior Committee chairwoman Miri Regev
(Likud Beytenu) expressed disapproval of the bill.
“I made it clear to
Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar that an indictment isn’t stronger than the
voters’ choice,” Regev said. “There should be no suspension unless the mayor is
Regev added that the bill had been “forced on the Knesset by
the Supreme Court” – a reference to a ruling that suspended Mayors Shimon Gafsou
of Upper Nazereth, Shlomo Lahiani of Bat Yam and Yitzhak Rochberger of Ramat
Hasharon, but allowed them to run, successfully, for reelection in
Regev’s comments come over a month after she invited Gafsou –
who was indicted for fraud, bribery and other financial crimes – and his
municipality’s legal adviser, Olga Gordon, who reported him for those alleged
offenses, to a committee meeting on “work relations between the elected
officials and bureaucrats in municipalities.”
Gafsou, a Likud member for
whom Regev campaigned in the October municipal election, was the only mayor
invited to the meeting, most of which the committee chairwoman spent chastising
Regev threw lawmakers who protested out of the meeting, and some
of them, including MK Miki Rosenthal (Labor), submitted complaints to Knesset
Speaker Yuli Edelstein.
Days later, Edelstein said there was no legal
problem with Regev’s behavior.