AG Weinstein Says Mayor of Central Israeli City Not Fit for Office

Attorney general tells High Court that Ramat Gan Mayor Zvi Bar, who is being indicted for bribery, fraud, breach of trust and obstruction of justice, should be removed from office.

Ilan Lior
Ilan Lior
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Ilan Lior
Ilan Lior

Ramat Gan Mayor Zvi Bar is not fit to continue in office in light of the serious charges against him, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein told the High Court of Justice on Sunday. Bar was indicted in January for NIS 1.7 million in bribery, fraud and breach of trust, as well as obstruction of justice.

Following a request from the High Court of Justice last month after a petition by Ramat Gan City Councilman Dr. Avi Lilian to oust Bar, the state responded that the council’s decision not to oust Bar was “extremely unreasonable and cannot stand.” The law states that the head of a local authority will be removed from office only after conviction for an offense that carries moral turpitude. However, Weinstein’s response said a mayor’s term can and should be terminated under special circumstances.

Even if the law does not automatically require that a mayor step down, “that is insufficient grounds to deny the City Council the authority to examine the improper conduct of the mayor,” the state’s response to the High Court contended.

According to Weinstein, the offenses of which Bar stands accused are very serious, show a pattern over the years and were committed while he held public office; in fact, it was public office that made it possible for him to allegedly commit those acts. “The conduct of the subject of the indictments does not, as stated in Clause 22‏(a‏) of the Local Authorities Law, suit the status of mayor and he is not worthy of the office,” Weinstein said.

The attorney general told the court that because local authority elections are only five months away, the Interior Minister cannot appoint a substitute for Bar. Although there was theoretically no legal reason for Ramat Gan to hold an lightening election for mayor now, and then another one in five months, Weinstein said that the idea was unreasonable and would impair the city’s organization and also be an economic burden.

Zvi Bar Credit: Sivan Shahur

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