Beit Shemesh Municipality Official Arrested in Holyland Affair

Motti Hota, the Beit Shemesh town manager, is suspected of having accepted bribes during the development of the Holyland residential project.

Israel Police detained on Wednesday the director general of the town of Beit Shemesh, over his alleged involvement in the Holyland corruption affair.

Motti Hota, manager of the Jerusalem suburb municipality, is suspected of having accepted bribes during the development of the luxury residential project. It was during his tenure as chairman of the Jerusalem District Planning and Construction between 1999 and 2006 that the committee approved plans for the development project despite earlier opposition by a local appeals committee.

Hota also worked as a supervisor for the Interior Ministry.

Investigations into the Holyland affair have embroiled many high-ranking Jerusalem officials, including former prime minister and Jerusalem mayor, Ehud Olmert and his successor as mayor, Uri Lupolianski.

Police suspect that, between 1999 and 2008, the Holyland Development Company and associated land developers paid tens of millions of dollars in bribes to senior decision makers in the Jerusalem municipality, members of its planning and construction committee and officials in the Israel Lands Administration.

Olmert has yet to be questioned in the affair.

On Monday, the Jerusalem Building and Planning Council decided to freeze excavation work being done at the Holyland site for 100 days, as the state investigates the bribery allegations.