Incumbent indicted for election fraud drops out of mayoral race in Emmanuel

The mayor of Emmanuel, a ultra-Orthodox settlement in the northern West Bank, has announced that he will be ending his campaign for a third term in office nearly two months after he was indicted for election fraud over his conduct during the lead-up to the vote five years ago.

Ezra Gershi says he has reached an agreement with Eliyahu Gafni to serve as his deputy mayor if the latter manages to defeat Moshe Heigel in the October 30 elections.

In August, Gershi was indicted for allegedly bribing local members of the Chabad Hasidic movement and illegally influencing the outcome of the 2013 municipal elections.

According to the charge sheet, Gershi made unlawful commitments to local Chabad members to secure their votes in the 2013 election in Emmanuel, which he eventually won.

The outgoing mayor allegedly agreed with Chabad leadership in the settlement that he would hand over the town’s brand new gymnasium to be turned into a yeshiva in exchange for their support.

Residents of the settlement, population 3,000, have suspected Gershi of abusing his position. There has been a video circulating over the past year in Emmanuel of what appears to be the mayor turning off the street lamps via a switch inside his house before going to bed ostensibly so that he can get a better night’s rest.

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