Israel's deputy speaker accused of drug and prostitution links

Israel's deputy speaker accused of drug and prostitution links
2 min read
10 June, 2015
Oren Hazan, who denies the allegations, is suspended pending investigations in latest claims to hit Israeli politics.
Hazan (right) denies the allegations against him [AFP]

Oren Hazan, Israeli deputy speaker was suspended by parliamentary speaker Yuli Edelstein on Tuesday after a report alleging he was involved in pimping and drugs.

"I informed MK Oren Hazan this morning that for the time being I won't be able to let him run the plenum sessions as deputy speaker of the Knesset, in light of the report on him on Channel 2," Edelstein wrote on Facebook.

"I am full of hope that he will clear himself of all suspicions, and I will be happy to apologise to him. But in the current public atmosphere, ethically - even if not criminally - there is no way he can run the plenum."

The report on privately owned Channel 2, broadcast Monday, alleged that Hazan, who used to run a casino in Bulgaria, had arranged to provide its clients with prostitutes and had used hard drugs during that time.

     This is another in a string of scandals to have recently rocked Israeli politics.

Hazan, a member of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's Likud party elected into parliament on March, denied the allegations.

His lawyer also told military radio Hazan had a medical condition that prevented him from being able to use hard drugs.

The allegations are the latest in a long line to have rocked Israeli politics.

In February 2015, in the run-up to the election, Netanyahu was accused of spending well over the official budget, including about $24,000 on takeaway food in 2011 even thought they had a chef at their residence.

From 2006-9 Ehud Olmert was plagued by corruption scandals while prime minister. In May 2015, he was found guilty of involvement in a multi-million dollar corruption scandal while mayor of Jerusalem from 1993-2003.

He was accused of taking bribes for a controversial residential development, and imprisoned for 6 years in what was nicknamed the Holyland Affair. In September 2012 he also received a suspended jail sentence and a fine for breaching the public's trust while minister of trade and industry.

Moshe Lion, a close associate of former foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman and a former candidate for Jerusalem mayor, was arrested in December 2014 on suspicion of facilitating bribes in the Yisrael Beiteinu corruption scandal.

In January 2015 Yisrael Beytenu MP Faina Kirschenbaum dropped out of politics after being involved in a corruption investigation. She denies all allegations against her.