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June 27, 2016 / 21 Sivan, 5776
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The Third Option in Beit Shemesh

There needs to be huge public pressure - demonstrations, effective PR and media for the cause, utilising every legal recourse and civil disruption.
Israelis of various stripes and religious convictions arguing in Beit Shemesh during the recent municipal campaign that ended up fraught with accusations of fraud and corruption.

Israelis of various stripes and religious convictions arguing in Beit Shemesh during the recent municipal campaign that ended up fraught with accusations of fraud and corruption.
Photo Credit: Yaakov Lederman/Flash90

We welcome blogger David Morris, who will keep us posted on events in Beit Shemesh from an American-Zionist perspective. For more on the election, go to: Beit Shemesh – We Was Robbed.

The use of criminal, illegal and immoral tactics by the ‘winning’ Moshe Abutbol campaign in Bet Shemesh, has led to various practical options to resolve the situation.

Option One Is to Re-Run the Disputed Election. 

I understand there are precedents for this in Israel, and the logistics do not need to be complicated. There is already a system for 2nd round elections in the case that no candidate for mayor obtains more than 40% of the vote. These 2nd round municipal elections will all be taking place around the country on 5th November.

So, in principle, adding Beit Shemesh to that list of second-round municipal elections on 5th November is feasible.

A problem is finding a mechanism which would force this election to be re-run.

I cannot see Moshe Abutbol voluntarily agreeing to a new election.

The Supreme Court would need to rule – and that would require legal proof of the nature and scale of the fraud. The Supreme Court cannot judge immorality – which may stink, but is not a factor in law.

Another problem is that, even in a second round election, the results will likely be a similarly bitter 50/50 split of the population, and whoever wins that election will also not have a popular legitimacy to rule the other 50%. The division in the city will remain, even if another mayor wins.

Option Two Is to Physically Split Beit Shemesh

Gidon Saar, Minister of the Interior, is due to evaluate dusted-off plans to split the city of Beit Shemesh into hareidi and non-hareidi cantons.

There would be two Town Councils – Beit Shemesh would have one, and Ramat Beit Shemesh another. Maps have been widely publicized in the press showing the possible split-up of the territories.

People point to Modein and Modein Ilit (Kireat Sefer) as a precedent.

To me, this looks like a logistical and bureaucratic nightmare – in the case of Beit Shemesh which, unlike Modein/Modein Ilit, is a 50 year old town. It would seem to be very complicated, expensive and the legalities would likely take years.

Option Three – Splitting the City by Time, Not Geography

I therefore propose a third solution to the current messy situation.

The precedent is the Shamir/Peres Government between 1984-88. Due to inconclusive election results in 1984, the two opposing leaders agreed to be prime minister for two years each. (More info here)

I suggest an agreement between Moshe Abutbol and Eli Cohen to split the term of office, so that each becomes mayor for 2.5 years. For the other 2.5 years they would each be a deputy mayor.

This will be seen by (close to) 100% of the population to be reasonable and fair, a mature approach to resolving differences, and should buy the city 5 years of fully functioning calm.

This does not require complex and costly logistics.

It is achievable by the two men simply signing an agreement, and moving on.

Like the other two options, Moshe Abutbul of course will not voluntarily do this. After all, he’s sitting in power.

All three options require it being untenable for Moshe Abutbol to simply hold onto his mayor’s seat.

There needs to be huge public pressure – demonstrations, effective PR and media for the cause, utilising every legal recourse and civil disruption. (Recall Orot Banot?)

IMHO – the end result should be a time-split between the two candidates.

The Beit Shemesh Autumn? 

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David Morris

About the Author: David Morris has been nominated for the President of Israel's Prize 2010. He is an entrepreneur in the fields of charity and electro-optics; Established Lema'an Achai ("For My Brothers"), the innovative community social services charity in Ramat Bet Shemesh, "Magen", the Bet Shemesh Child Protection Agency, and "Yad LeYedid" (A Hand to a Friend) charity helping impoverished families in Jerusalem. His day-job as Owner/CEO of Scitronix Ltd is marketing sophisticated electro-optical products to high tech industries in Israel. David is the proud dad of six amazing children, and luckiest-husband-in-the-world of Julie Morris.

The author's opinion does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Jewish Press.

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2 Responses to “The Third Option in Beit Shemesh”

  1. we was or we were…?

  2. I recognize that there are "lunatic extremes" (on all sides) in Beit Shemesh, but the overwhelming majority of Haredim in Beit Shemesh are no less moral and law-abiding than Morris. And if I may add, a lot more moderate in their language and accusations than he is. Has Morris attempted to dialogue with Abutbol? Moshe Abutbol appears to me to be a kind, approachable and eminently reasonable man. Morris would be better advised to attempt the path of dialogue before he resorts to aggressive confrontational tactics.

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