Colleagues offer support to Hanegbi following verdict

Olmert congratulates Kadima MK; Livni, Netanyhu show support.

hanegbi 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
hanegbi 311
(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.
The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court cleared Hanegbi on Tuesday of four charges, including election bribery, but convicted him of perjury.
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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 unity government.
Hanegbi is one of the few politicians trusted by both Netanyahu and Livni.
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 punished enough.
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.”