(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Former prime minister Ehud Olmert, who is facing charges of making illegal political appointments, called Kadima MK Tzahi Hanegbi on Tuesday to congratulate him for his acquittal on similar charges.
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The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court cleared Hanegbi on Tuesday of four charges, including election bribery, but convicted him of perjury.
The State Attorney’s Office has prepared a draft indictment that is
contingent on a hearing against Olmert for appointments he made as
industry, trade and labor minister.
Hanegbi also received calls from both Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
and Kadima leader Tzipi Livni, between whom he volunteered to mediate,
in his press conference on Tuesday, in an effort to form a national
Hanegbi is one of the few politicians trusted by both Netanyahu and
Livni, who sees Hanegbi as a close political adviser, expressed hope
that when he was sentenced in the fall, the court would rule that he
could remain in the Knesset.
“We will wait together, with full trust in the courts, for the
completion of the legal process with hope that after so many years, the
process will end soon and we can continue working together on behalf of
the state and its people,” Livni told Hanegbi.
Kadima faction chairwoman Dalia Itzik said Hanegbi had already been
She expressed optimism that the judges would give him another chance to
be a leading politician in Israel.
“I hope that now his path to advancing politically will be paved,” Itzik
said. “Due to his skills, political experience and intelligence,
Hanegbi is needed in Israeli politics.”
A Likud MK mocked Kadima following Hanegbi’s conviction for being “a
party full of convicts,” but he requested anonymity because he said he
hoped Hanegbi would eventually rejoin the Likud.
MK Arye Eldad (National Union), who chairs the Knesset lobby against
corruption, said Hanegbi should suspend himself from the Knesset due to
his perjury conviction. He accused Hanegbi of using the Foreign Affairs
and Defense Committee that he chairs to “kiss up to Netanyahu” in an
effort to encourage the formation of a national unity government.
“This is a very bad day for those who try to fight political
appointments in order to clean up the Israeli corridors of power,” Eldad
said. “If Hanegbi can get away with making political appointments and
bragging about them, other politicians won’t worry about appointing
their horse as a senator.”