Bennett laments ‘corruption’ in Jewish Home primary

Bennett laments ‘corruption’ in Jewish Home primary

Right-wing party leader confirms he initiated investigation into fellow MK Slomiansky for alleged vote-buying in Knesset bid

Aaron Kalman is a former writer and breaking news editor for the Times of Israel

Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett on Tuesday denounced ostensible corruption in his party that took place during last year’s primary elections. Alluding to an investigation against MK Nissan Slomiansky for alleged vote-buying, Bennett said he would back all party members for the duration of the police inquiry.

In a Facebook post, Bennett confirmed that there were cases of people selling their votes during the November primaries. He said he had ordered an internal investigation into the affair at the time, which resulted in the disqualification of thousands of illegitimate registrants to the party, who either didn’t exist or were still registered as members with other parties.

New recordings released on Monday revealed the method whereby Slomiansky allegedly bought thousands of votes in order to rank high in the primary elections. Slomiansky, currently the party’s No. 3, fell under suspicion of election fraud earlier this week.

Slomiansky has denied all allegations of wrongdoing, insisting he was the victim of unfounded gossip stemming from political rivalries. He noted that he had a lifetime of public service behind him, and had “never been tainted” by any hint of corruption.

Besides Slomiansky, the police questioned four other people regarding possible involvement in the buying of votes. According to Channel 2 one of those questioned had made a failed attempt to enter the Knesset on the right-wing party’s list.

People joining parties for money and voting according to the will of their sponsors “is illegal and corrupts parties,” Bennett said.

Primary elections are supposed to express the will of a party’s constituency, “but when votes are bought it gives enormous power to a small number of people,” he said. “This is one of the problems with the primaries system. I’m sorry it reached us.”

Bennett wrote that the findings of the internal investigation were handed over to the police, challenging “those who claim it’s simply a flaw in the system and there’s nothing to do about it.”

Yifa Yaakov contributed to this report.

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