Indictments should not have more weight than a democratic election, Knesset Interior Committee chairwoman Miri Regev said Tuesday, during her panel’s meeting on a bill that would suspend mayors indicted on corruption charges.
The Interior Ministry-submitted bill 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.
“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 convicted.”
The Interior Committee chairwoman added that the bill had been “forced on the Knesset by the Supreme Court” – a reference to a ruling that suspended several mayors but allowed them to run for reelection earlier this year.
Regev’s comments come over a month after she invited Upper Nazareth Mayor Shimon Gafsou – who was indicted for fraud, bribery and other financial crimes – and his municipality’s legal adviser, Olga Gordon, who reported him for those crimes, 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 elections, was the only mayor invited to the meeting, most of which the committee chairwoman spent chastising Gordon.
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.
During Tuesday’s debate, MK Moshe Feiglin (Likud Beytenu) said the bill should be thrown out, adding that “the real question is who the sovereign is.”
MKs in both the opposition and coalition complained that the legislation was not detailed enough and should list which crimes betray the public’s trust enough to warrant a suspension.
The committee was also unable to reach an agreement on how the suspending committee would be selected and who would fill in for the mayors.
As such, the Interior Committee will meet again before sending the bill for final votes in the plenum.