Former Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski will spend the next few nights in detention, as the Rishon Lezion Magistrate's Court on Wednesday extended his remand by five days, after he was arrested on suspicion of taking bribes in the amount of NIS 3 million, in exchange for advancing the Holyland project in his city.
Speaking with Ynet, Lupolianski's son, Bezalel refused to believe that his father was guilty of the offences attributed to him. "We were raised on integrity at home, even in the smallest things. On every half shekel," he said, after learning of his father's arrest.
Of the family's reaction to the news he said, "It is unpleasant now, but we are praying and expecting it to end well. We know him as a strong man, thank God, and we know that he has always sought nothing but integrity."
According to the son, despite the unpleasantness and the vagueness of the situation at present, the family is staying positive. "I personally don't know anything about this affair, it is all rather vague. We hope that the essence of the truth will come to light, God willing, and everything will be okay," he said.
Another aide close to Lupolianski said he will overcome this crisis. "I didn't think he would be arrested," the aide said, and admitted that the arrest could damage the former mayor's image.
'He is a very simple, modest man'
Other sources linked to Lupolianski, supporters and opponents alike, were shocked by the news of the suspicions against him. "There was always talk and rumors about Yad Sarah, but Uri always gave the impression of an honest, decent and modest man," Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Pepe Alalu (Meretz) told Ynet.
"There may have been a concern that he was using his position to promote Yad Sarah, there is always concern with anything to do with donations, and you can never know what the limits are in such cases. Politics may be dirty, but overall, Lupolianski was always a very simple and modest man," Alalu said.
Saar Netanel, who served as a member of the Jerusalem City Council under the former Mayor, claimed Lupolianski was always guided by sectarian interests. "I knew him for over five years, and I always thought that smile he was wearing was just a mask. He never honored the city's legal advisor or his opinion. However, I did not suspect that he was capable of taking a bribe."
'If suspicions true it is very serious'
An associate of Lupolianski addressed the former mayor's life work, the Yad Sarah association, through which police suspect he received the bribe money. "I believe he is troubled, and hope this does not affect Yad Sarah. It doesn't seem reasonable to me that such a cautious and calculated man would be charged with bribery."
Foreign donors to Yad Sarah spoke with Ynet on condition of anonymity and cautiously addressed the allegations against Lupolianski. "I donated to the organization several times and this affair does not change my attitude towards the sacred work they do and my desire to contribute to it. I am not thoroughly familiar with the facts, but if he did what he did, and if people in the association enabled him to do so with the association's money – this is very serious."