JERUSALEM (Sep. 23)
Members of the National Religious Party threatened today to seek to run a separate list in the Jerusalem municipal elections to protest the party’s decision to run former Deputy Health Minister Yitzhak Rafael as the NRP candidate for mayor.
Mr. Rafael was indicted on charges of bribery, allegedly committed while he was Deputy Health Minister. He was acquitted of the charges on September 16, when Yehuda Spiegel, former director-general of the Ministry, refused to testify against him. Spiegel is serving a two-year prison term for accepting bribes from contractors seeking bids for a new hospital.
Mr. Rafael was placed among the top six names on the National Religious Party’s list for the Parliamentary election and the party organized a celebration for his acquittal. However, a number of party members expressed agreement with the secular press, which had contended that Rafael’s acquittal on a legal technicality did not constitute a moral acquittal. They refused the invitations to the celebration, and began to discuss putting up a separate candidate against Rafael in the mayoralty race. Both the municipal and Parliamentary balloting will take place November 2.