No. 4 on Yisrael Beiteinu List Forgoes Knesset for City Hall

Safed Mayor Ilan Shohat, who says he prefers to remain in his current post, has been under some controversy after a recording revealed possible improper conduct on his watch.

Noa Shpigel
Noa Shpigel
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Safed Mayor Shohat, Mar. 24, 2015. Had expressed desire to help the Galilee.
Safed Mayor Shohat, Mar. 24, 2015. Had expressed desire to help the Galilee.Credit: Gil Eliayahu
Noa Shpigel
Noa Shpigel

Safed Mayor Ilan Shohat, who was No. 4 on the Yisraeli Beiteinu slate in the election last week, announced on Monday that he will not be taking up his Knesset seat and will remain at city hall instead.

As a result, outgoing Knesset member Robert Ilatov, seventh slot on the list of the party, which garnered enough votes for just six seats, is now due to serve in the parliament.

Shohat left open the possibility of forgoing his Knesset seat following the election when he declared, immediately afterward: “From the beginning, I said that I want to express myself in a position where I feel I can apply myself and do things using my skills. I need to see where I can do this better. At the moment, the direction is the Knesset.”

Shohat was initially elected mayor of the Galilee city of Safed in 2008 and was re-elected in 2013.

In an interview with Radio Kol Rega after the election, he expressed the hope that as a member of the Knesset he could work to develop the Galilee and the Negev.

About two months ago, questions were raised regarding Shohat’s conduct following the release of a recording that purportedly showed his driver handing envelopes of cash over to the mayor’s secretary. In response, the mayor said that the money was earmarked for helping the needy, and that any allegations of impropriety were part of an effort to extort him that was being waged against him since he announced his Knesset candidacy.

The recording was initially exposed by the Walla news website and ostensibly features a conversation between Yossi Levy, Shohat’s driver at the time, and the mayor’s secretary. The driver was allegedly sent to Jerusalem to pick up a carton of envelopes. The secretary is purportedly heard asking him to check what is in them, and he apparently answers that they contain banknotes. At the end of the conversation, the secretary seems to be ask the driver to proceed directly to Shohat’s senior aide.

The recording was disclosed as part of a complaint that Levy, the driver, filed against the mayor after being dismissed from his job. Levy also detailed a series of other alleged, serious instances of improper conduct on the mayor’s part, including suspicions of illicit transfer of funds.

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