Shelly Yacimovich .
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
In her first response to the probe of Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog, his rival MK Shelly Yacimovich expressed concern Saturday that his legal problem could damage their party.
Yacimovich wrote her followers on social media that she is embarrassed because the probe is checking whether Herzog broke campaign fund-raising laws in the 2013 Labor leadership primary against her.
She apologized for remaining silent until now, saying that although she normally does not hesitate to talk about the rule of law and the struggle against corruption, this time it would be taken differently if she spoke.
“Because one of the issues being probed is connected to me, even if I say what I have said consistently, it would be seen as personal and political, so I won’t mince words,” she wrote. “I simply hope that justice will come to light.
As always, I trust the police, the State’s Attorney’s Office and all the institutions of the rule of law. I hope my party doesn’t have to pay too high a price.”
In what was seen in the Zionist Union as criticism of Yacimovich, fellow likely leadership candidate MK Amir Peretz defended Herzog.
“I know Buji [Herzog’s nickname] and he is an honest man,” Peretz told Channel 2’s Meet the Press program on Saturday.
“We need to do everything possible to strengthen the hand of the head of the party in times like these, even if some among us had plans to replace him.”
Herzog did not respond to Yacimovich directly. But he wrote a statement on Facebook in which he refrained from addressing the charges against him, but slammed unnamed rivals for giving information against him to police.
“We cannot let ourselves be polluted by bad spirits who are trying to use law enforcement authorities as part of an election campaign and to bring in unacceptable political practices,” he wrote. “We cannot allow such practices to be used. They must be stopped. Being a leader means dealing with malicious libels. Whoever tries to nail us will make us into a hammer.”
Herzog thanked the thousands of supporters who sent him messages of encouragement. He continued to proclaim his innocence.
“Our party will never be led by a man tainted by wrongdoing, and that includes me,” he said. “I am ready to answer any question. I know I have been honest, clean and fair, as I have been my entire life.”
Meanwhile, Shas leader Arye Deri, who is expected to be questioned under caution soon in his corruption scandal, had what his confidants called a relaxing weekend.
“I spoke to Deri, and he sounded calm and serene,” his friend, Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman, said at a cultural event Saturday morning in Modi’in. “I hope [the investigation] ends up being nothing.”
Liberman said the chances of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expanding his government are “close to zero but not less than zero. We have to get used to it that apparently by the end of the year, there will be elections.”