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New mayoral elections ordered for Beit Shemesh

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The city of Beit Shemesh will hold new mayoral elections after Israel’s Supreme Court upheld a lower-court ruling overturning the results, citing fraud.

Interior Minister Gideon Saar on Tuesday scheduled the new elections for March 11 following the Supreme Court ruling.

The Jerusalem District Court in December had nullified the election results  from the previous month and called for a new vote due to irregularities on Election Day.

The haredi Orthodox incumbent, Moshe Abutbul, had defeated a secular challenger, Eli Cohen, by fewer than 1,000 votes. Abutbul supporters are alleged to have voted multiple times, paid voters to cast ballots for the mayor and facilitated fraudulent voter registration.

Beit Shemesh, a city of 80,000 near Jerusalem, in recent years has been at the center of Israel’s religious divide.

The Supreme Court also ordered new mayoral elections in Nazareth due to fraudulent ballots.

 

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