The ultra-Orthodox Shas party on Monday filed a petition against Tel Aviv’s mayor and municipality, alleging that special offers, including free entry to swimming pools to those who provide proof they voted in Tuesday’s elections, amount to the use of public resources to bribe the city’s predominantly left-wing voters.
The Tel Aviv municipality announced on Sunday that residents who take a picture of themselves voting (without revealing their party of choice) and are in possession of a residency card for the city or an identity card with a Tel Aviv address are eligible for a number of benefits (Hebrew) on Tuesday.
Options available for voters include a limited number of free admission passes to selected swimming pools, tours of the city, movie screenings and beer for NIS 10 (approximately $2.80) at selected venues.
In its complaint to the Central Elections Committee, Shas said that the fact that many of the venues weren’t kosher and that all the pools are located in the north of the city (this is false) where voters tend to vote for left-wing parties, showed that the get-out-the-vote effort was essentially partisan.
The petition comes as issues of religion and state remained front-and-center less than 24 hours before Israelis go the polls.
On Sunday, a Shas lawmaker denounced Yisrael Beytenu party leader Avidgor Liberman as a person who would shop on Shabbat at a store that sells pork. Under Jewish law, the consumption of pork is forbidden, as is shopping on Shabbat. Polls have forecast Yisrael Beytenu will be kingmaker after the elections, with neither the ruling Likud party nor opposition Blue and White having a clear path to cobbling together a ruling coalition without it.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was unable to form a majority coalition after the April election because secular Liberman refused to join his government, citing an impasse with ultra-Orthodox parties.
Last week the son of the former spiritual leader of Shas attacked Yair Lapid, saying the Blue and White No. 2 should “go to hell, along with his father.” Lapid is the son of late MK Yosef (Tommy) Lapid, who headed the secular Shinui party.
Last month, the ultra-Orthodox community decried Yair Lapid as anti-Semitic after he tweeted a satirical campaign video portraying senior ultra-Orthodox politicians as venal and corrupt, demanding large sums of money in exchange for pledging loyalty to Netanyahu.
The centrist Blue and White has vowed to form a “secular unity government” if it becomes the largest party after Tuesday’s vote.