Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein on Wednesday responded to a petition to the
High Court of Justice to fire Bat Yam Mayor Shlomo Lahiani and disqualify him
from running for reelection.
Weinstein stated that Lahiani is “unfit” to
“run for reelection, but there is no legal way to stop” him. The petition was
filed by OMETZ, the Movement for Quality Government in Israel.
said that the indictment against Lahiani, filed on October 1, was even “more
severe” than the recent indictments against the mayors of Upper Nazareth and
In a recent mixed decision by the High Court, both mayors
were forced to step down only weeks before elections, but were still permitted
to run for reelection.
The High Court’s rationale for compelling the
mayors to step down was based on an interpretation of the potentially applicable
laws expanding a trend to make public officials step down if they have
sufficiently severe charges filed against them.
At the same time, the
High Court had said that the Knesset simply had not legislated a rule
prohibiting persons indicted for a crime to run for election, prohibiting only
those convicted of crimes carrying a finding of moral
Weinstein explained his rationale, that neither he nor OMETZ
has a “legal” way to stop Lahiani from running as a function of the court’s
recent decision and its clarification that, absent a conviction with moral
turpitude, there is no bar for running for office.
said he hoped that the Bat Yam City Council would take action against Lahiani,
as they had legislative power to remove him even without a court
Lahiani is suspected of taking between NIS 800-NIS 900,000 in
bribes, starting in 2005, to advance the interests of local businessmen in Bat
Yam and asking nine municipality employees to take bank loans and transfer the
money to him.
Lahiani is also accused of a conflict of interest for
holding partial ownership in a local newspaper from which the Bat Yam
municipality bought advertising space.
Prior to the indictment, Lahiani
was a highly popular mayor and was credited with a level of revitalization of