Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat announced on Sunday his decision to suspend Deputy
Mayor Eli Simchayoff, following the indictment filed against him over the
Holyland real estate corruption scandal.
Simchayoff was one of 13 people,
among them former prime minister Ehud Olmert, indicted earlier this month on
allegations of giving and receiving bribes in one of the largest corruption
scandals in the country’s history.
The indictment charges that Holyland
real estate developers paid tens of millions of shekels to public employees and
elected officials to advance the projects, including by substantially shortening
planning times, smoothing over planning objections, rezoning land, giving tax
breaks and increasing the permitted amount of construction.
mayor’s decision came after Simchayoff refused to suspend himself pending a
trial verdict, in accordance with an opinion presented by the municipality’s
Barkat referred to the municipal legal adviser’s opinion,
which said that while Simchayoff is presumed innocent, in the light of his
indictment for offenses related to his municipal duties, and of the gravity of
those offenses, he must be suspended from his executive position in order to
avoid damaging public trust in the Jerusalem Municipality.
affair is a watershed in the struggle against corruption and damage to
integrity,” Barkat said.
“As mayor, it is my duty to lead the city of
Jerusalem while setting norms and rules of conduct and personal and professional
integrity, in order to strengthen public confidence in the Jerusalem
municipality and its employees.”