Israel's Knesset deputy speaker suspended after drug, pimping report

AFP , Tuesday 9 Jun 2015

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu make statements to the press before a meeting in the prime minister's office in Jerusalem, Monday, June 8, 2015 (Photo: AP)

Israeli parliamentary speaker Yuli Edelstein on Tuesday suspended Oren Hazan from his duties as deputy speaker after a report alleging the lawmaker 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.

Hazan, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party elected into parliament on March, denied in a series of interviews on Tuesday any misdoings.

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

Following Edelstein's announcement, a furious Hazan phoned the Knesset speaker and threatened to dig up dirt on him and expose it publicly, an aide to Edelstein told AFP.

Hazan had earlier said he would be unable to chair Tuesday's plenum session since he was consulting with his lawyers ahead of filing a lawsuit against Channel 2, a move he announced late Monday night.

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