(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Following Kadima MK Tzahi Hanegbi’s acquittal last week on charges of making illegal political appointments, party activists began an effort over the weekend to persuade him to seek the Kadima chairmanship.
case shows need for nuanced approachHanegbi plans to
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acquitted on 3 charges
Hanegbi told the press that he would not challenge Kadima leader Tzipi Livni “in this term” and that he was now focused on fighting to ensure that the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court would not force him to leave the Knesset due to his conviction for perjury. But Kadima activists said they believed they could persuade him to run.
“The sigh of relief of Kadima
activists across the country could be heard last week from Kiryat Shmona
in the North to Eilat in the South,” Haim Segal of Kfar Saba wrote
about Hanegbi’s exoneration on the activist Web site Go Kadima.
expressions of joy and relief of Kadima members are merely the tip of
the iceberg for the feelings accompanying Tzahi’s case.”
who worked in top positions in Kadima’s administration and for MK Shaul
Mofaz’s campaign against Livni, wrote that many in Kadima saw Hanegbi as
the man who could bring the party back to power. He praised Hanegbi’s
abilities, wisdom and political savvy, his close relationship with MKs
from other parties, and his vast experience, saying such qualities could
enable him to lead Kadima to success in the next election if he would
change his mind about not running.
“Tzahi said he doesn’t intend
to run for Kadima head in this term, but can we in Kadima give up on
him?” Segal wrote.
“Many MKs and activists feel that he is the
man who can turn things around and restore the party’s adrenaline.”
activists said the reason Hanegbi would be a better candidate than
Livni was that while she could bring more mandates, he could attract
more support from the Right and allow Kadima’s bloc to win more seats
than the Likud’s.
They said the last election, in which Kadima
won more seats but the Likud formed the government, proved that the size
of the blocs was what mattered.
They added that Hanegbi also had
good relations with the religious parties, which Livni does not. Mofaz
also has good ties with Shas, but they said Hanegbi had more proven
“He was involved in all of Kadima’s
political moves behind the scenes,” one activist said. “There is no
reason why he shouldn’t be in the front. I hope that ultimately, he will
accept our call.”
Another Kadima activist downplayed the efforts
to draft Hanegbi and said they would only become serious if Hanegbi
authorized them, which he has made clear that he does not intend to do.
also wish he would run now, but he wants to be a minister first to
improve his image with the public,” another top Kadima activist said.
“He knows he could beat Livni, but there is no point if he would not
become prime minister.”