Police on Thursday said that they believed bribery charges should be filed against Likud MK David Bitan, as well as a number of other public officials and business people, in a scandal surrounding construction in Rishon LeTzion. The charges relate to activities that took place between 2011 and 2017.
According to police, Bitan, who was deputy mayor of Rishon LeTzion for part of that time, along with Dov Tzur, mayor of the city, and Arnon Giladi, deputy mayor of Tel Aviv, among others received hundreds of thousands of shekels in goods and services in exchange for approvals for construction of projects. Also accused in the scandal are a host of businesses and executives, including officials of construction firm Dania-Sebus and other contractors and service firms.
According to police, Bitan and other public officials received cash, services, and the promise of two free apartments for approving projects. The payments and benefits continued during Bitan’s term as a city official, and during his time in the Knesset. In its recommendations, police said that Bitan “used his influence, authority, and connections to bring about decisions, including providing permits of different types, and reductions in payments to the city. He also engendered the reversal of decisions made in the Tel Aviv municipality on the legal status of projects. Bitan conducted those activities in meetings in the Rishon LeTzion municipality, Knesset committees, and other venues. He did all this to advance the cause of the businesses he had aligned himself with, and received benefits from.”
In response, attorneys for Bitan, who was formerly Likud whip in the Knesset, said Thursday that there was nothing to the police recommendations. “The main charges in these cases have been investigated, and it was determined that there was no wrongdoing. The police are not a legal body, and thus the recommendations they make have no legal standing. The State Attorney, who will be the one to decide if our client needs to stand trial, has not done so. Our client is confident that after a hearing, in which he will be able to present his side of the case, the recommendations will be completely reversed.”