Instead of Suspending Indicted Mayor, Panel Recommends Paid Leave for Him

Attorney general's request rejected by panel; Upper Nazareth Mayor Gapso apparently plans to refuse offer.

Revital Hovel
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Revital Hovel

The Interior Ministry committee charged with deciding whether indicted mayors should be suspended from office has proposed that Upper Nazareth Mayor Shimon Gapso take a 120-day leave of absence, during which he would receive full pay.

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein had asked the three-member panel, chaired by retired Judge Moshe Gal, to suspend the mayor, who is currently standing trial in the Haifa District Court on charges of taking bribes. But at a meeting last Wednesday, committee members suggested that Gapso go on leave, thereby sparing them the need to make a decision.

This would be to Gapso’s benefit, since if he were suspended he would receive only 70 percent of his salary. It would be to the detriment of the municipality, which would have to pay full salaries to both Gapso and his replacement.

Still, Gapso apparently plans to refuse the offer, to which he must respond by 4 P.M. on Wednesday.

Gapso is the second mayor whose suspension Weinstein has sought under a recently passed law that allows mayors under indictment to be suspended. Weinstein argued that Gapso’s continued service as mayor while standing trial on bribery charges was improper.

Just last year, Weinstein noted, the High Court of Justice ordered Gapso’s ouster due to the charges against him. Since then two things have happened: Gapso was reelected and the law allowing his suspension was passed. But neither of those alters the court’s finding that Gapso’s continuance in office violates the rule of law, Weinstein argued.

Weinstein also asked that Gapso be suspended from his other municipal positions, which include membership on both the local planning and building committee and the board of the local economic corporation. But the Gal Committee voiced reservations about that proposal.

The committee doesn’t publish its minutes, and its members – Gal, former Tel Aviv district attorney Miriam Rosenthal and former mayor of Yeruham Moti Avisrur – declined Haaretz’s request for comment. Attorney Nidal Hayek of the Movement for Quality Government in Israel said his organization would consider petitioning the High Court if the panel ultimately decided against suspending Gapso. 

Upper Nazareth Mayor Shimon GapsoCredit: Tomer Appelbaum