Yamina MK to be investigated for illegally voting twice in Knesset

Abir Kara admits to the error immediately following the vote; Likud MK urges attorney general to open probe

Amy Spiro is a reporter and writer with The Times of Israel

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)
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)

Yamina MK Abir Kara became the center of controversy on Thursday after he was caught illegally voting twice in the Knesset on a bill limiting unemployment benefits.

Kara, who is also a deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, said he accidentally voted from the computer of fellow Yamina MK Idit Silman.

“I voted from the wrong computer of my friend who sits next to me, out of instinct, and it was a mistake,” Kara tweeted. “The important thing is that I admitted immediately to the error. And by the way, the coalition had a majority on the bill anyway.”

Kara slammed opposition lawmakers for their reaction to what he said was an unintentional move.

“My friends in the opposition who have never taken responsibility for their failures, which have caused lives to be lost, won’t teach me about fixing mistakes,” he added. “You are drowning in the failures at Meron and in Lod that are still smeared on your faces,” he said, in reference to the crush at Mount Meron on Lag B’Omer in April that killed 45 people, as well as the deadly clashes in Lod during the flareup in violence with Gaza in May. “I will continue to work on behalf of the public with love and dedication.”

According to Channel 13, there is no indication that Kara — who took office in April — ever voted twice in the past. A source in the Knesset told the network that if no other such instances are discovered, Kara is unlikely to face criminal charges.

Members of the opposition argue during a discussion on a law regarding unemployment payouts during a plenum session in the Knesset in Jerusalem on July 1, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/FLASH90)

Former Likud MK Yehiel Hazan — the father of former Likud MK Oren Hazan — voted twice in the Knesset in 2003 and ended up being sentenced to four months of community service and a six-month suspended prison term. Channel 13 noted, however, that 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.

Likud MK Shlomo Karhi filed a complaint on Thursday evening with Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit urging him to open an investigation into the incident.

“I am requesting you open an immediate investigation of the issue,” Karhi wrote. “I am also requesting an immediate instruction to preserve all relevant video footage from the past two weeks and review those as well.”

The Movement for Quality Government in Israel also called for an investigation.

“Double voting is not a mistake, it’s a crime!” the nonprofit organization tweeted. “Honest and innocent government is the foundation of a democratic state and we will not hesitate to fight for it against any governmental entity that acts in violation of the law. The case must be investigated in depth.”

Ultimately, the legislation, which ends unemployment benefits for those under 45 and lowers the payments for those over 45, passed 35-0, after opposition MKs walked out in protest after Kara’s double vote.

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