The High Court of Justice ordered a new mayoral election for Nazareth after the results of the last vote, which took place in October, were disqualified due to fraudulent ballots.
In the October municipal elections, incumbent Ramez Jaraisi beat out challenger Ali Salam by just nine votes.
The court gave the state 30 days to prepare for the new election. Within hours on Tuesday, Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar ordered that the new elections take place on March 11, and said that the decision to hold new elections was the “only logical and reasonable solution under the circumstances.”
Incumbent Ramez Jaraisi, who has held the mayoral post for two decades in the Galilee town, said that the High Court should have accepted “the residents’ decision and recognized the legal vote,” and accused the government of “political intervention” in the matter, according to a Tuesday Maariv report.
Jaraisi called on the residents of Nazareth to “decide responsibly” in the new election.
According to Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, a post-election investigation conducted jointly by the Interior Ministry, Prisons Service and Justice Ministry revealed that at least 11 ballots were cast in the Nazareth municipal election by individuals who were either under arrest or out of the country and thus could not have voted on election day, October 22.
Since the election was won by just nine votes out of tens of thousands of ballots cast, the handful of fraudulent ballots may have been enough to decide the vote, Weinstein said in December, when he submitted his view to the High Court with a recommendation to call for new elections.
In December, the Jerusalem District Court ordered that new elections be called for Beit Shemesh, where in October ultra-Orthodox incumbent mayor Moshe Abutbul narrowly beat out challenger Eli Cohen amid allegations of widespread voter fraud in favor of Abutbul.
A date has not yet been set by the Interior Ministry for the new elections there.