17 Cases Closed in Yisrael Beiteinu Affair

Cases against Afula mayor Yitzhak Meron and Moshe Leon, a close associate of Lieberman, were closed for lack of evidence. 16 other cases still stand.

Former Minister Stas Misezhnikov and former Deputy Minister Faina Kirschenbaum.
Michal Fattal, Illan Assayag

The State Prosecutor’s Office announced yesterday that it is closing the cases of 17 suspects in the Yisrael Beiteinu corruption affair, after announcing on Monday it would indict 16 others.

The case against Afula mayor Yitzhak Meron and his deputy Boris Yodis was closed due to insufficient evidence. The one against Moshe Leon, an accountant who ran for mayor of Jerusalem in 2013 and is a close associate of Yisrael Beiteinu head Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, was also closed for insufficient evidence.

The case against Daniel Krichman, former head of the World Zionist Organization’s settlement division and former director general of the Agriculture Ministry, was closed for lack of evidence.

The case against the head of the Mateh Binyamin regional council Avi Roeh was closed for absence of guilt. The case against Meital Frank- Kirschenbaum, daughter of former Deputy Interior Minister and Knesset member Faina Kirschenbaum, a major figure in the affair who is about to be indicted, was closed because of insufficient evidence on a number of the charges, and for a lack of public interest on the remaining charges.

The State Prosecutor’s Office announced on Monday that 16 former top officials in Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party will be indicted on corruption charges. Former Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov and Kirschenbaum are among the 16 suspects slated to be indicted, said Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit and State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan.

Both Misezhnikov and Kirschenbaum will be summoned for hearings, after which they are expected to be formally charged, the statement said. The economic division of the State Prosecutor’s Office has notified 14 other suspects that it is considering prosecuting them as well. Further summonses are pending, with a decision not yet reached in some of the cases.

Misezhnikov is expected to be charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust along with possession and use of a dangerous substance, as well as obstruction of justice.

Kirschenbaum, formerly Yisrael Beiteinu’s general secretary as well as an ex-deputy minister and MK, is expected to be charged with bribery, fraud, breach of trust, money laundering and tax evasion.

Misezhnikov is suspected of have given 1 million shekels ($267,000) while in office for a students’ festival in Eilat, and asking organizers to employ his romantic partner. They are said to have complied, paying the woman tens of thousands of shekels. He is also charged with sending one of his advisers to purchase cocaine for himself on several occasions while he was serving as tourism minister, and of using the drug during official events in Israel and abroad.

Money allegedly went in part to members of Yisrael Beiteinu, who directed the allocation of the funds. Entities including local governments, the Anti-Drug Authority, the Ezra and Ayalim NGOs were allegedly ordered to allocate set portions of budgets they received for purposes determined by Yisrael Beiteinu members. This included the purchase of services for party purposes or for real or fictitious employment of people close to the party by these agencies. Some of the funds purportedly financed private trips by Kirschenbaum and her family members, while others went for purchasing electronic devices bought by these agencies and later found in Kirschenbaum’s home.

Others who received summonses were David Godovsky, who headed the organizational department of the party; Rami Cohen, a former director general of the Agriculture Ministry; Dov Litvinoff, head of the Tamar Regional Council; lobbyist Yisrael Yehoshua; Matan Dahan, head of the Ayalim NGO; and Danny Glicksberg, deputy head of the NGO.

Summonses were also sent to Victoria Rabin, a former parliamentary aide to Kirschenbaum, to media adviser Ronen Moshe, to Irena Woldenberg, head of the Entrepreneurs Organization, and to five other suspects.

The violations attributed to these suspects took place between 2009 and 2014, according to the State Attorney’s Office. Some of the alleged illegal activity is said to have only stopped when the investigation became public knowledge in December 2014. Material was handed over by the police to the State Attorney’s Office in October 2015, and its investigations department completed further inquiries two weeks ago. The team of attorneys dealing with these cases delivered its recommendations and list of suspected violations for approval by the attorney general and the state attorney.