A leading member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party stepped down from the position of Coalition Chairman, as police investigations proceed.
By: Yona Schnitzer/TPS
Coalition Chairman David Bitan resigned from his duties Wednesday in the wake of a police investigation into improprieties during his tenure in the Rishon Lezion municipality, but will remain in the Knesset as a Likud MK.
“This morning, I asked the Prime Minister to relieve me of my duties as Chairman of the Coalition,” Bitan wrote in a statement, “The reason for this is that the current situation is making it difficult for me [to fulfill my duties], and I do not want to have an adverse effect on the functioning of the coalition.”
Bitan is suspected of bribery and money laundering, as well as promoting the interests of the head of a well known crime organization in exchange for help with settling debts he owed to loan sharks.
In response to Bitan’s resignation, Likud MK Oren Hazan, who, as Deputy Coalition Whip, is technically slated to replace Bitan, said, “While I’m supposed to be the one to fill the Chairman’s shoes, this is not [the time], I’m passing on the role and I wish my friend David Bitan good luck in clearing his name.”