hanegbi at court_311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Tzahi Hanegbi (Kadima)
took leave of parliament on Tuesday after the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court ruled
that the act of perjury of which he had been convicted involved moral
According to the Basic Law: Knesset, an MK convicted of a
crime involving moral turpitude must immediately suspend himself from membership
in the Knesset until and unless the ruling is overturned in an appeal before a
Analysis: A minority opinion worth noting
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Hanegbi pleads for his political life ahead of
Analysis: Hankering for Hanegbi
On July 13, Hanegbi was acquitted of charges that he had
committed fraud, breach of trust and election bribery and had tried to influence
voters. However, he was convicted of charges that he had given false testimony
and committed perjury before a quasi-judicial hearing headed by the chairman of
the Central Elections Committee, then-Supreme Court justice Mishael Cheshin, in
In the plea for sentencing, the prosecution asked the court to
determine that the crimes for which Hanegbi had been convicted involved moral
turpitude, and also that it give him a suspended jail sentence and a fine.
Hanegbi’s defense lawyers asked the court not to rule that the crime involved
moral turpitude and to sentence him to a fine and a period of public
Earlier Tuesday, the court handed down its sentence. Judges
Aryeh Romanov and Oded Shaham ruled that the crime committed by Hanegbi involved
However, they did not sentence him to an active or
suspended prison sentence.
In the minority vote, presiding judge Yoel
Tsur ruled that Hanegbi’s crime did not involve moral turpitude.
court unanimously agreed to fine Hanegbi NIS 10,000.
The court’s decision
not to give Hanegbi a suspended sentence means that he would be able to serve in
According to the Basic Law: Government, had Hanegbi been
given any kind of jail sentence – even a suspended one – he would have been
barred from serving in a cabinet post for seven years.
The outcome of the
sentencing was that Hanegbi was suspended from service in the current
“This morning, by nature, is a painful and difficult one,”
Hanegbi told reporters outside the courtroom after the decision was
“For eight straight years, I carried on a legal struggle in the
belief that the outcome would be balanced and favorable... But the court ruled
this morning as it did. The decision is to be honored, and I honor
Hanegbi’s lawyer, Gershon Guntovnik, told reporters that the defense
did not intend to appeal the conviction and sentencing, but would do so if the
state decided to appeal.
The state has already announced that it intends
to appeal the court decision to acquit Hanegbi on the first charge, which had to
do with an article that appeared in a Likud Party magazine two days before the
Likud central committee elected the party’s slate of candidates.
article boasted that Hanegbi had appointed dozens of central committee members
and their relatives to jobs in the Environment Ministry when he served as its
minister. It went on to say that if given a larger ministry to head after the
election, he would be able to make more appointments.
During his address
to reporters after the trial, Hanegbi recommended that Kadima MK Shaul Mofaz
replace him as chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
is a member of the committee and is aware of the responsibility that it bears,”
said Hanegbi. “It is important to choose a permanent committee head quickly,
He also said that he would use his good relations with
both Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and opposition leader Tzippi Livni to
overcome the political and personal differences standing in the way of a
national unity government.
“It is the top priority to formulate a broad
national, parliamentary consensus on the core issues. I believe such a consensus
exists among the public,” he said.