ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 149

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Prosecutors unveil pending charges against former Yamina MK for double-voting

Abir Kara faces indictment for aggravated forgery, fraud and breach of trust for casting two votes during 2021 plenum session, which he maintains was an innocent mistake

Former Yamina MK Abir Kara at the launch of his new Economic Freedom party in Jerusalem, September 4, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Former Yamina MK Abir Kara at the launch of his new Economic Freedom party in Jerusalem, September 4, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Prosecutors on Wednesday announced they intend to indict former MK Abir Kara for voting twice on a Knesset bill.

The pending charges are over Kara’s casting of two votes in July 2021 on a bill relating to unemployment benefits. Double-voting is a criminal offense in Israel.

Kara, a deputy minister in the Prime Minster’s Office at the time, has maintained the double vote was an innocent mistake and said he accidentally voted from the computer of a fellow lawmaker in Yamina, the defunct political party which was led by then-prime minister Naftali Bennett.

A police investigation led by Lahav 433 anti-corruption unit wrapped up last year, with the State Attorney’s Office since reviewing the case to decide whether to file charges.

In a statement, prosecutors said Kara faces charges of aggravated forgery, fraud and breach of trust, pending a pre-indictment hearing. They added that the decision to inform Kara of their plans to indict him was made by Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara at State Attorney Amit Aisman’s recommendation.

Kara, a vocal critic of the current government, responded by reiterating that he had not intended to vote twice and noted that immediately afterward he copped to doing so, while expressing confidence the case would be closed without charges.

“I of course will cooperate with law enforcement authorities and have no doubt that this will end with nothing,” he wrote on Twitter. “I expect all elected officials who realize they have made a mistake to take full responsibility for their actions and work to fix them, as I did in the plenum.”

Yamina MK Abir Kara (center) is seen during a discussion on a law regarding unemployment benefits in the Knesset on July 1, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Kara served a term in the Knesset but failed to reenter the parliament after November’s elections, when the Economic Freedom party he formed after breaking from Yamina received only a fraction of the votes necessary to clear the minimum electoral threshold.

Former minister Ayelet Shaked, who took the reins of Yamina after Bennett decided to quit politics following his coalition’s collapse but also did not garner enough backing to return to the Knesset, decried the “scandalous” decision by the attorney general and prosecutors to charge Kara.

“A human error that derived from the pressure [felt by] a new Knesset member in the plenum, who admitted his mistake,” Shaked tweeted. “The continued abuse of an upstanding person.”

Former Likud MK Yehiel Hazan — the father of former Likud MK Oren Hazan — double voted in the Knesset in 2003 and was sentenced to four months of community service and a six-month suspended prison term.

However, unlike Kara, Hazan refused to admit to the offense despite video evidence, and later attempted to tamper with the evidence. Hazan remained in the Knesset for his full term, and was not reelected in 2006.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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