Jerusalem’s District Court accepted the petition against the results of local elections in the city and decided to have new elections held. The decision comes after many complaints of election fraud arose on election day.

Many Beit Shemesh residents celebrated after the ruling by Jerusalem's District Court

Many Beit Shemesh residents celebrated after the ruling by Jerusalem’s District Court Photo Credit: Channel 2

Jerusalem’s District Court decided today to authorize new mayoral elections elections in Beit Shemesh, following the discovery of forged ballots discovered on Election Day two months ago. Apparently, the election will be held again in early February 2014. Secular residents driving near Beit Shemesh’s municipal building were honking their cars in celebration.

The court accepted the Attorney General’s position that fraud may have been committed, therefore hiding the true election results. “Justice has prevailed,” said Eli Cohen, the secular candidate for mayor who lost in the previous round, in response to the court’s decision. “I’m glad to know that democracy in Beit Shemesh won. Societal standards and lawful norms were victorious. We’ve been through a difficult journey, but I believe that the Court placed justice in the right path before our eyes.”

“I’m happy, there are judges in Jerusalem,” said Richard Peres, a member of the City Council of the Labor Party, to Channel 2 News. “This is a great victory for democracy in Israel. I thank the legal system and the police. We will go united this time and be strict with the legal system.”

On the other hand , many of the ultra-Orthodox residents of the city today expressed dissatisfaction with the Court’s ruling. “It proved again that the court rules in favor of the secular. It defies all logic,” said Shlomo, a city resident to Channel 2 news. However, in opposition to Shlomo, another resident of the city, MK Dov Lipman a Member of Knesset from the Yesh Atid party said that he “praises the judges in their decision to hold new elections in Beit Shemesh. For several years we have been fighting for the identity of the city of Beit Shemesh, a microcosm of all of Israeli society. Currently, we are focusing on the new elections that will be clean and completely democratic. The winner of the election will be agreed upon and accepted by the entire population of the city regardless of his religious determination, with the knowledge that he was elected fairly and according to the laws of the State of Israel.”

Candidates for Mayor of Beit Shemesh: Abutbol (left) and Cohen (right).

Candidates for Mayor of Beit Shemesh: Abutbol (left) and Cohen (right). Photo Credit: Public Relations, Yossi Zleiger

“The ruling has no legal basis. It is corrupt and racist.”

Shas Chairman MK Aryeh Deri expressed criticism over the decision. “It bothers me that the Honorable Court chose to go after the media campaign and nullify the democratic decision of the people of Beit Shemesh. I am confident and trust that Shas candidate Moshe Abutbol will win again and with a larger margin.”

MK Eli Yishai joined his party colleagues and said that “it is regrettable that the Court’s decision will result in another unnecessary and unjust election campaign for Beit Shemesh. It is my intention to act again this time around for Mayor Abutbol in helping him to lead Beit Shemesh and its people to a better future.”

MK Uri Maklev from the United Torah Judaism party strongly opposed the court’s decision. He stated that “the District Court’s ruling is one with no legal basis, is corrupt and is racist.”

Citizens of Beit Shemesh disagreed over the ruling made today by Jerusalem's District Court.

Citizens of Beit Shemesh disagreed over the ruling made today by Jerusalem’s District Court. Yaakov Lederman/Flash 90

In the first round of mayoral elections in Beit Shemesh two months ago, Shas candidate Moshe Abutbol, ran against candidate Eli Cohen, supported by the Jewish Home party and by the secular community in the city. Abutbol received 52% of the votes while Cohen received 46%.

However, supporters of Cohen argued that the victory came about by way of fraud and forgery. The police has arrested a number of suspects in the case. Once the findings of the investigation were presented to Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, he filed an appeal against the election results to the District Court in Jerusalem.