Police Question Additional Suspects in Alleged Yisrael Beiteinu Graft Scandal

Mateh Yehuda Regional Council head and senior official from a Jewish youth movement questioned under caution in recent days, police say.

Yaniv Kubovich
Yaniv Kubovich
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One of the suspects in the corruption affair allegedly involving Yisrael Beiteinu officials at a hearing Monday, December 29.
One of the suspects in the corruption affair allegedly involving Yisrael Beiteinu officials at a hearing Monday, December 29.Credit: David Bachar
Yaniv Kubovich
Yaniv Kubovich

Israel Police continue to expand the investigation into corruption allegedly involving officials from the Yisrael Beiteinu party, allowing for publication Tuesday that the head of the Mateh Yehuda Regional Council is among those suspected of crimes.

Police said Tuesday that Moshe Dadon, head of the Jerusalem area regional council, was questioned under caution on Sunday. He is suspected of being an accessory to bribery, and joins the Tamar, Megillot, and Shomron regional council heads as suspects in the graft affair. Dadon was released after several hours of questioning.

Officers from the Israel Police fraud squad on Sunday raided the offices of the Galilee Development Authority, which is overseen by the Ministry for the Development of the Negev and the Galilee, as part of the investigation.
Police are examining suspicions that the authority transferred funds via organizations like the Ayalim Association – whose director, Matan Dahan, is among those detained in the probe – to advance the interests of Yisrael Beiteinu members and associates. Police are investigating the source of those funds.

Meanwhile, additional suspects in the case were brought to the Rishon Letzion Magistrate's Court for a remand extension hearing on Tuesday. They include Shomron Regional Council head Gershon Mesika, Israel Anti-Drug Authority Director General Yair Geller, Victoria Rabin, the assistant to Deputy Interior Minister Faina Kirshenbaum, former Shomron Development Company head Haim Ben Shushan, the treasurer of the Binyamin Regional Council, Efi Peles, and Steven Levy. Gershon is suspected of giving and acting as a go-between for bribes, while Geller is suspected of receiving bribes and Rabin is also suspected of acting as a mediator.

Rabin and Dahan were released to house arrest for 10 days, while Geller is being detained for three more days.

Police on Monday questioned a senior official from a Jewish youth movement on suspicion of paying bribes in connection to the broader corruption investigation.

The suspect was questioned at length under caution, meaning that he was warned that he himself might be charged with a crime, on suspicion that he paid bribes from funds that he had received from Yisrael Beiteinu. The suspect’s youth movement is a long-standing organization that is active in Israel and abroad and is active primarily in working with religious youth.

In recent years, the movement has directed particular effort to its operations in Eastern Europe and North America. The movement currently has three branches in Ukraine, in the cities of Zaparozhia, Mariupol and Cherkasy. The movement had also had a presence in the Ukrainian city of Luhansk, but it closed after most of the young people involved moved to Israel. The organization has branches in four cities in neighboring Belarus as well. Yisrael Beiteinu has drawn much of its electoral support from immigrants from the former Soviet Union.

The suspect from the youth movement was questioned in connection with specific suspicions related to one particular aspect of the wider investigation, Israel Police officials said. Following questioning, the suspect was released subject to limitations that bar him from having contact with other suspects in the case.

Five years ago, the suspect participated in meeting at the Knesset on Jewish youth movements around the world.

“Unfortunately, the resources provided to us by the Jewish Agency are only dropping,” he told the session. “The resources provided to us by the State of Israel are dropping. This is where Yisrael Beiteinu should be noted—complimented--for providing us with millions of shekels. Were it not for these millions of shekels, we would have all been in [a state of] collapse. This is very significant for the international youth movements.”

Dozens of public officials have been detained in connection with the broader police investigation, involving suspicions of illegal payment of funds to certain organizations, money laundering, granting improper personal favors, bribery and improper promotions allegedly provided to associates.

The suspects include Yisrael Beiteinu Knesset member and Deputy Interior Minister Faina Kirshenbaum and fellow party member and former Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov.

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