Corruption Case Against Netanya Mayor Closed Due to Lack of Evidence

State prosecutor says not enough evidence to charge Miriam Feirberg for bribery, fraud and breach of trust

FILE Photo: Netanya Mayor Miriam Feirberg, August 11, 2016.
Dudu Bachar

State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan on Sunday decided to close the corruption case against Netanya Mayor Miriam Feirberg for lack of evidence. In 2017, the police had recommended charging Feirberg with bribery, fraud and breach of trust in connection with several large real estate deals in the city. Last fall, prosecutors involved in the investigation recommended she be charged with fraud and breach of trust, but not bribery.

In municipal elections in October, Feirberg won a fourth term as mayor with 48 percent of the vote. In subsequent deliberations about her case, the prosecution apparently changed its position on the case, leading Nitzan to close it. “Although the mayor did not act as would be expected of a person in her position, the evidentiary picture assembled is insufficient to issue an indictment on the suspicions investigated,” the Justice Ministry said in a statement.

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Reacting to the decision, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan called Feirberg “an amazing mayor, one of the best in Israel by any standard.” And he added: “This decision is a reminder to all of us that we must be very careful about the presumption of innocence of elected officials and not decide their fate based on media reports.”

The prosecution is still considering filing charges against Netanya Deputy Mayor Shimon Sher. According to police, while he was chairman of the local planning and building subcommittee, he allegedly received more than 3 million shekels (currently $835,000) in donations for institutions affiliated with the Sanz Hassidic community from individuals with real estate interests in the city, even though he knew these people had submitted or were planning to submit requests for building permits.