Ex-minister Ben-Eliezer hospitalized with suspected stroke

Ex-minister Ben-Eliezer hospitalized with suspected stroke

Former Labor leader undergoes tests at Assaf Harofeh hospital; was indicted in absentia on multiple graft charges last year

Binyamin Ben-Eliezer in 2014. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Binyamin Ben-Eliezer in 2014. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Former defense minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer was hospitalized on Sunday after feeling ill while undergoing routine dialysis treatment.

Ben-Eliezer was taken to Assaf Harofeh Medical Center, where doctors were examining if the embattled former minister had suffered a stroke.

A former Labor Party leader and presidential candidate, Ben-Eliezer has suffered from various health issues for a number of years, and in December 2014 underwent a kidney transplant. Several months later, he was hospitalized with a serious case of influenza, at which time he was hooked up to life support until his condition improved.

Ben-Eliezer, 80, who left the Knesset in 2014 after a 30-year career with Labor, was indicted in December by state prosecutors for allegedly demanding and receiving more than NIS two million (over $500,000) from businesspeople in exchange for actions he allegedly took as a public servant.

He is also accused of receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of foreign currency that he kept hidden and unreported in safes in his home and a bank, apparently in violation of tax laws and transparency rules for Knesset members. The funds were purportedly used to buy real estate, including an apartment in Jaffa.

In May, state prosecutors offered Ben-Eliezer a plea bargain aimed at punishing the octogenarian without forcing him to serve time in prison.

Ben Eliezer was offered the option of paying an NIS-11-million ($2.86-million) fine in exchange for not serving time in prison.

At the time, Channel 10 reported that the prosecution might cancel the bribery charges in order to enable a no-prison deal.

But negotiations with Ben-Eliezer’s attorneys have reportedly stalled, as Ben-Eliezer claims he neither has, nor can raise, the NIS 11 million, a sum corresponding to the sum total of the fines owed for the alleged bribes he received, plus taxes incurred, the TV channel reported.

The criminal proceedings against him began when then-attorney general Yehuda Weinstein in January 2015 accepted a police recommendation to indict the politician and 10 of his associates.

In December 2014, the politician announced he would leave politics to focus on his health and clearing his name, ending a 30-year political career.

The probe had already prompted the veteran MK to end his candidacy for Israel’s presidency in June 2014, three days before the election.

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