Analysis: Hankering for Hanegbi

Netanyahu might be in New York this week, but his heart will be in Jerusalem, hoping for good news for Tzahi Hanegbi.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
November 9, 2010 01:11
2 minute read.
Tzahi Hanegbi

Hanegbi 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

 
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Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spent Monday speaking to Jewish leaders at the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America in New Orleans and meeting with UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon in New York.

In his speech at the GA and his meeting at the UN, he discussed the keys to success in confronting both the advancement of diplomatic talks with the Palestinians and the efforts to prevent the nuclearization of Iran. But he left out one key factor that will be decided Tuesday.

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Netanyahu needs Tzahi Hanegbi.

Hanegbi’s fate is in the hands of a Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court judge, who will decide on Tuesday whether his perjury conviction two months ago constituted the kind of moral turpitude that would force him to leave the Knesset and not return for seven years.

If the judge says yes, a once promising political career will be over.

Hanegbi will be added to too long a list of Israeli politicians whose careers ended prematurely due to easily avoidable corruption charges.

But if the judge says no, no one will remember the conviction, and Hanegbi’s path to political advancement will be clear.



Hanegbi has made a point of keeping a low profile during the years he had to concentrate on his trial. He purposely made no waves as chairman of the prestigious Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, which gave Netanyahu quiet in the workplace from a potentially problematic position of power.

With kosher certification from a judge, Hanegbi could return to a role of leadership on politics, Iran, and the advancement of Middle East peace.

It was Hanegbi who drafted a document that would have been the basis of a Likud-Kadima government before Labor joined the coalition instead. Hanegbi thought Kadima leader Tzipi Livni made a mistake by rejecting Netanyahu’s overtures.

Now Hanegbi, who is trusted by both Netanyahu and Livni, could potentially bring them together.

Hanegbi could use a cabinet post to build up his credentials ahead of a run for the Kadima leadership following a loss by Livni in the next general election.

Having Hanegbi in the government would provide Netanyahu a key new spokesman to justify whatever overtures he makes over the next several months to the Palestinians at the behest of US President Barack Obama.

Hanegbi, who once climbed a monument to protest the handover of the Yamit settlement in Sinai to Egypt, could provide a major service to Netanyahu if he would have to justify territorial concessions in Judea and Samaria. The support of the son of hawkish former MK Geula Cohen could be just what Netanyahu needs to sell his future diplomatic steps.

It is no wonder that Netanyahu and his aides wrote such a glowing recommendation letter on Hanegbi’s behalf to the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court.

Netanyahu might be in New York on Tuesday, but his heart will be in Jerusalem, hoping for good news for Tzahi Hanegbi.

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