Yisrael Beiteinu MK Kirshenbaum Quits Politics Amid Fraud Probe

Kirshenbaum, who decided to exercise the right to remain silent, is the 4th party member to retire since election was called.

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Haaretz
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Faina Kirshenbaum.
Faina Kirshenbaum.Credit: Moti Milrod
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Haaretz

Yisrael Beiteinu MK and Deputy Interior Minister Faina Kirshenbaum announced on Monday she will not seek re-election, citing her intention to devote her time in proving her innocence in the so-called Yisrael Beiteinu corruption probe.

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. Kirshenbaum was questioned again on Monday morning.

"With a heavy heart, and after a long deliberation, I decided that under these circumstances I will not be investigated in a fair and adequate manner, and had no choice but to choose to exercise the right to remain silent," Kirshenbaum said in a statement.

"Since I understand that as a public figure remaining silent has many ramifications," she added, "I decided not to seek re-election, to leave public life and to invest my time in proving my innocence and to rehabilitate my family."

Kirshenbaum is the fourth party member to retire since the election was called. Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitz, Tourism Minister Uzi Landau and chairman of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, David Rotem, all recently announced they were quitting politics.

Meanwhile, senior officials in the northern Israeli city of Afula's municipality were brought into questioning as part of a new investigation connected to the Yisrael Beiteinu probe. A senior Likud minister's chief of staff was also questioned.

The allegations in the graft case include improperly diverting funds to various nonprofit associations and other bodies, laundering money through front organizations, bribery, fraud and breach of trust, falsifying corporate documents, promoting the interests of cronies and appointing associates to government positions. Police say the financial scope of the fraud totaled millions of shekels.

The police have raided the homes and offices of the suspects and confiscated documents and computers.

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