The Supreme Court ruled to hold new municipal and mayoral elections in Beit Shemesh, siding with Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein's position, after votes cast by imposters were registered in the October 2013 elections. Interior Minister Gideon Sa'ar announced that new elections will take place on Tuesday, March 11.
Moshe Abutbul, the incumbent mayor of Beit Shemesh, expressed anger over the Supreme Court ruling, saying that "injustice and theft has been done in the wake of my sweet victory. There was not one Supreme Court ruling in favor of the ultra-Orthodox sector. The court despises the Right and the ultra-Orthodox. People tell me that if my name was not Abutbul the ruling would be different, and it's hard for me to deny that. It is obvious what the public environment is and the judges swept after the media. I hope that a crushing victory in the upcoming elections will be our answer."
"I bless the people of Beit Shemesh and the citizens of the State of Israel that we have democracy which sanctifies integrity. We do not want to dwell in the past but look to the future to bring hope to Beit Shemesh," Eli Cohen, the candidate representing the secular, traditional, and national religious population in the city said after the ruling. "We will not be dragged into a religious war, and we will not be dragged into slander. We come to the elections with new hope for the residents, and we will give everyone the opportunity to chose a more open and prosperous city."
The ultra-Orthodox side of the spectrum was furious over the court decision. "There is no doubt that public pressure played a role and the court was swept into the inciting media environment and did not thoroughly examine the weak and unconvincing evidence," Beit Shemesh Deputy Mayor Shmuel Greenberg said. "I am sorry to say that if this were in another place, the verdict would have been different. Its unfortunate that wherever there's a hint of ultra-Orthodox religion, the verdict is accordingly. A day where a rare and unprecedented ruling nullifies democratic elections based on hearsay and bits of evidence is a sad day for democracy and for the State of Israel."
"The Shas party representative Rabbi Moshe Abutbul will run again and I have no doubt that he will win with an even greater margin, God willing" Shas Chairman, Aryeh Deri expressed in remorse. "The public in Beit Shemesh will prove that there is no room for the court's intervention in the democratic process."
In a previous trial, the Jerusalem District Court ruled that many votes in the October municipal elections were cast by imposters using other people's ID cards.
"The Beit Shemesh residents, and the election system which was meant to express their democratic will, have fallen victim to organized, systematic and widespread violations of the law whose purpose was to skew the election results. Taking note of this widespread phenomenon, the Jerusalem District Court found a real possibility that this conspiracy affected the results and ordered re-elections," Supreme Court Justice Uzi Vogelman said. "The severity of these actions which undermine the pillars of democracy require completing the police investigation and taking the right steps. We can only hope that the re-elections in Beit Shemesh will go forward intact -- and I assume officials in charge of that will take necessary steps to ensure that."
The Supreme Court also ruled on Tuesday to nullify the municipal and mayoral elections in Nazareth and ordered a revote after the October results were found to be fraudulent. The court reversed a lower court decision -- made two weeks ago in Nazareth -- that decided not to hold new elections and that the incumbent mayor Ramiz Jaraisy was the election's winner.