Likud kingpin David Appel convicted on bribery counts
Former mayor of Lod, Benny Regev convicted of accepting bribes from Appel and his company, Migdal Hazohar.
By DAN IZENBERG
David Appel, a developer known for his close ties with the Likud Party, was convicted Thursday by the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court of giving bribes to advance his real estate projects.The former mayor of Lod, Benny Regev, was convicted of accepting bribes from Appel and his company, Migdal Hazohar.Appel was also convicted of bribing the former mayor of Givat Shmuel, Zamir Ben-Ari, and a senior official in the Israel Lands Administration, Oded Tal.The state did not charge Ben-Ari in the affair. Tal was convicted in 2008 of accepting bribes from Appel and two others.According to the first count in the indictment, Appel, his company and an intermediary, Benny Tabin, gave Regev almost NIS 1.4 million to finance his campaign for mayor of Lod in 1998. Regev had already served one term as mayor on behalf of the Labor Party, but was forced to run as an independent in the 1998 election.In 1991, Migdalei Zohar, which was run by Appel, began building and marketing apartments in Lod’s Ganei Aviv neighborhood which included 5,000 units. The company wanted to add a mall and two apartment towers to the existing project.Furthermore, in 1997, the company purchased 1,400 dunams (140 hectares) of land belonging to Moshav Ginaton, near Lod. It asked the Lod Municipality to annex the land and rezone it from agricultural to residential.Regev supported Appel’s projects, and Appel was eager to keep him in office.In addition to the campaign funds, Appel and Migdalei Zohar gave Regev other benefits, including bank guarantees and strategic and logistical help for the campaign.According to the second count, Appel and Migdalei Zohar owned land in Givat Shmuel which was earmarked for 370 one-story houses. They wanted to change the plan in order to build 2,000 units on the land, but needed the support of the local planning council to do this.In the meantime, Ben-Ari was running for mayor of the town but did not have sufficient funds for the campaign. Appel, Migdalei Zohar and Tabin, again as go-between, were charged with paying service-providers and strategists to the tune of NIS 95,000 to help Ben-Ari.According to the third charge, Appel bribed Tal to help him win atender for an urban renewal project in Givat Shmuel by hinting to himthat he had the political clout to get him a promotion. Tal was actinghead of the central district of the Israel Lands Administration at thetime.Appel also offered to employ Tal’s wife in his development company.One of the prosecutors, Yonatan Tadmor, said after the ruling that “thecourt has said in a loud and clear voice what it thought of thecorruptive link between government and finance in reciprocal relationsof give and take. The judges determined that the picture which emergedwas a harsh one, in which Appel advanced his interests by givingbribes.”
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