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Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Kadima Party is only a month old, but it already has six top officials who are being investigated.
Kiryat Shmona Mayor Haim Barbivai became the latest to join Kadima's list of troubled candidates on Tuesday when State Attorney Eran Shendar indicted him on charges of breach of trust and taking bribes. Barbivai, who had been promised a realistic slot on the Kadima list, immediately suspended his candidacy.
Barbivai joined Sharon, MK Omri Sharon, Minister-without-Portfolio Tzahi Hanegbi and deputy ministers Eli Aflalo and Ruhama Avraham, who are all being investigated by either the police or the state comptroller.
Kadima's critics accused the party of being "corrupt to the core," but party officials said the large number of investigations was a product of coincidence and bad luck. They said although Barbivai had been questioned by police, the indictment was unexpected.
Omri Sharon has pleaded guilty to illegally raising funds for his father's campaign. He is not running for reelection to the Knesset, but has been instrumental in forming the Kadima list.
"We can't fire him from being his father's son," a Kadima official said of Omri. "He has less power than people think, but the fact that he is probably going to jail doesn't make him subhuman."
Investigations against the prime minister have so far only strengthened him politically. Kadima did not lose any support in the polls when Hanegbi joined the party the same day that police recommended charging him.
Kadima's critics predicted that the party's Teflon would eventually wear off and that it would soon start falling in the polls. A Labor Party spokesman said, "Every day it was becoming clearer that the random group gathered around Sharon has nothing in common on diplomatic or economic issues and the only thing they share is a defect.
"Apparently, when Omri Sharon composed the Kadima list, the condition for acceptance was an indictment," the spokesman said.
Kadima officials responded that "people who live in glasses houses shouldn't throw stones."
MK Salah Tarif is running for reelection with Labor after being found guilty of accepting a bribe. Labor MK Isaac Herzog was investigated in Ehud Barak's nonprofit organization scandal. And Labor's membership drive is being investigated by the police for forgeries.
Labor secretary-general Eitan Cabel denied a report on journalist Yoav Yitzhak's NFC Web site that said State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss would announce a probe into Labor in upcoming days.
The comptroller's spokeswoman said there was no such announcement forthcoming and Lindenstrauss was looking into the election systems in all the parties.
Dan Izenberg contributed to this report.
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