Watchdog calls to probe Bayit Yehudi voter fraud

'Ometz' appeals to A-G to open investigation into whether Bennett had haredi men registered as party members to win votes.

Bennett voting 22.1.13  (photo credit: Reuters/Nir Elias)
Bennett voting 22.1.13
(photo credit: Reuters/Nir Elias)
The Ometz watchdog organization appealed to the Attorney-General’s Office on Sunday to open an investigation into whether Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett had hundreds of haredi men registered as party members so that they would vote for him in Bayit Yehudi’s primary leadership election.
The request follows an investigation broadcast on Friday night by Channel 1 that alleged that Bennett, or someone on his behalf, gave cash payments to representatives of the Kretshnif hassidic dynasty to vote for Bennett in the party primary.
Ometz claimed that if the allegations were true, it would constitute a violation of the 1992 Parties Law prohibiting the payment of party membership dues for another person, or any other payments, in return for votes in internal elections and is punishable by a year’s imprisonment.
Bennett’s office strongly denied the accusations.
“Naftali Bennett did not give and will not give anything in exchange for support, not to the hassidic dynasty in question and not to anyone else,” a spokesman for the Bayit Yehudi leader said in a statement to the press.
He also said that it was possible that the registration of members of the Kretshnif community were registered as Bayit Yehudi members by party officials in Rehovot, where the Kretshnif headquarters is located, for reasons of municipal politics.
The spokesman said that if those who registered as party members had not voted for the party in the general election such activity was “unacceptable.”
He added that the party called for any information on illegal primary activities to be immediately turned over to the legal authorities.
Approximately 350 Kretshnif hassidim in Rehovot registered as Bayit Yehudi members before the primary election. The Srugim news website reported that the unusual registration of so many haredi men as members of the national-religious party could have been part of a plan to promote the candidacy of one of the party officials in the city for chairmanship of Bayit Yehudi’s Rehovot branch, as well as for the coming municipal elections at the end of the year.