MKs Eichler and Lipman argue in Knesset 370.
(photo credit: Sam Sokol)
The Knesset Interior Committee recommended on Wednesday for the Interior
Ministry to report to police any suspected cases of people changing their
registered address to vote in elections in cities in which they do not
Committee chairwoman Miri Regev told MKs that “clear
instructions” must be given that “there can not be a situation where the clerk
knows that there is a problem” and does not report it.
Any suspicion of
fraud, especially in cases of multiple people registering the same address,
should be passed on to the police, she said, adding that the Interior Ministry
“should check after the elections if there are changes in addresses anywhere in
Wednesday’s session came in response to calls for an
investigation into the possibility that yeshiva students studying in Beit
Shemesh, whose families live in other cities, were changing the addresses on
their identification cards in order to vote there.
provided by the Interior Ministry indicated that changes in the voter rolls did
not support such concerns, despite Regev’s remarks that “large numbers of people
[came] to register as residents of the city to vote for the
“I am happy that they reported that there isn’t any
crazy disconnect,” MK Dov Lipman, and Beit Shemesh resident, told The Jerusalem
Post after the committee meeting. “That means that we can go into the elections
knowing that it’s okay.”
However, Lipman said, testimony from ministry
representatives indicated that there had been attempts to falsely register
residency in Beit Shemesh which had been detected and blocked.
were made and as a result a request has been made for more oversight on election
day,” he explained.
Writing on his website, Rafi Goldmeier, a local
blogger and political activist in Beit Shemesh, noted that a haredi student had
told him that the boys in his yeshiva “are all changing their address to Beit
Shemesh for the elections, but then a month later will be changing their
addresses back, each one to whatever city he actually lives in... because their
families get discounts in arnona in whatever city they live in, and part of the
calculations for arnona discounts is how many people live in the
MK Yisrael Eichler of the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism
party accused Lipman of anti-Semitism for convening the committee to discuss the
matter and bemoaned, what he called, attempts to delegitimize the haredi
“The use of the Interior Committee as part of the anti-Semitic
effort against the haredi community in Beit Shemesh is wrong,” he charged,
asking why there was no investigation into university students in Jerusalem
changing their addresses in order to vote for secular candidates.
he said, was engaging in “incitement” against the ultra-Orthodox.
spokesman for Beit Shemesh Mayor Moshe Abutbol said that the mayor was happy to
see that the Knesset had investigated the allegations and “discovered that there
was nothing but fiction behind them.”
It is perfectly legitimate for a
yeshiva student who learns full time in Beit Shemesh to change his address, the
spokesman said. The claims of electoral fraud have “no basis,” he added, stating
that there was no “dramatic increase” in the city’s population.
has been “exploiting” children for political ends, Supreme Court Justice and
Central Elections Committee speaker Salim Joubran said on Wednesday, after
investigating allegations by opposition candidate Eli Cohen that the mayor has
campaigned in an illegal manner.
Joubran wrote that Abutbol had violated
election laws by running a contest offering a new bicycle to the the child who
is able to get the most people to put up election signs and by exhibiting
election posters with the logos of opposition parties, indicating that they
support his candidacy.
Joubran fined Abutbol NIS 5,000.
Abutbol campaign has resorted to “desperate measures,” a Cohen spokesman said in
response to the decision.
The Abutbol campaign shot back, alleging that
Cohen had given up on winning the hearts and minds of voters and was seeking to
bolster his candidacy through legal attacks meant to “sabotage” the
An Abutbol spokesman called Cohen a hypocrite due to his critique
of the mayor’s contest at the same time as he has pictures of children being
given balloons by his campaign workers on his Facebook page.