Court to Rule Today on Appel Graft Case

The Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court is to hand down its decision today on the bribery charges against businessman David Appel.

Appel stands accused of bribing Lod mayor Benny Regev, Giv'at Shmuel local council head Zamir Ben-Ari and a senior official in the Israel Lands Administration, Oded Tal.

Also named in the indictment, issued in 2003, is Appel's real estate firm, Migdal Hazohar Construction and Benny Tabin, who is charged with being the middleman for delivering the bribe through his firm, Eichut Hayim Beganei Aviv.

Regev has also been indicted for taking a bribe.

The first charge states that Appel and his company bribed Regev to allow him to build a mall, more residential towers, a country club and a light rail system during construction of the new Ganei Aviv neighborhood in Lod.

Appel and his company allegedly also worked to have some 1,400 dunams (350 acres) of agricultural land brought within Lod's city limits and have the land rezoned for construction.

Regev allegedly worked to promote the interests of Appel and his company and therefore they contributed NIS 1.4 million to Regev's reelection campaign, disguising the payments with fictitious receipts.

According to the second charge, Appel and Migdal Hazohar gave NIS 95 million to Givat Shmuel local council head Zamir Ben-Ari's campaign so he would promote their interests in his town and rezone land for the construction of 2,000 housing units.

The third charge states that Appel bribed Tal, acting head of the ILA's Tel Aviv district and led him to believe his connections would facilitate Tal's promotion to ILA central district chief. In return, Tal allegedly advanced Appel's and Migdal Hazohar's interests in Givat Shmuel and interened with regard to a debt Appel and his wife had for the lease on their home.

Tal was convicted in 2008 of taking a bribe from Appel in a separate trial.