Kadima MKs accuse prosecution of misconduct

Dankner: Lador should commit suicide; politicians on Right and Left slam Olmert on breach of trust charge.

July 11, 2012 03:21
3 minute read.
Former PM Ehud Olmert after verdict

Former PM Ehud Olmert after verdict 370. (photo credit: Emil Salman/ Pool)


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While politicians on the Left and Right slammed former prime minister Ehud Olmert following the verdict acquitting him of most of his corruption charges, those closest to him – friends and Kadima MKs – blamed the prosecution for negligence.

“Some say [State Attorney] Moshe Lador should consider resigning, but I think he should commit suicide,” Amnon Dankner, a close friend of Olmert, said on Tuesday. “In Japan, he would perform harakiri [ritual suicide] over something like this. He made an Israeli government fall, a prime minister resign and changed the lives of millions of Israelis – in my opinion for the worse.”

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Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz congratulated Olmert on his acquittal and praised his service to the state as the party’s leader and prime minister.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu attempted to give a non-partisan response, saying he had full faith in Israel’s judicial system and welcomed the news of Olmert’s exoneration on two of the three counts against him.

Meanwhile, Kadima MKs sought ways to avenge Olmert’s name from within the Knesset.

MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima) demanded that the Knesset State Control Committee review the conduct of the State Attorney’s Office’s in Olmert’s case.

“When the state attorney’s work is done unprofessionally and hurriedly, shaking up the whole country for no reason and removing a prime minister, it is important to make sure there were no political motives [behind the] indictments,” Hasson stated.

Knesset State Control Committee chairman Uri Ariel (National Union) agreed that the State Attorney’s Office must be examined, saying today is the panel’s Yom Kippur – or day of reckoning – and there were serious oversights.

At the same time, Ariel called Olmert’s conviction of breach of trust a “black stain on Israel and a crisis in the public’s faith in its leadership and elected representatives.”

MK Otniel Schneller (Kadima) floated the idea of resubmitting his “French Bill,” which is similar to a law in France that forbids the prosecution of an elected official while he or she is in office. Schneller proposed the bill during the previous Knesset but was told by the Justice Ministry that it would block it.

“I hope that this time, the Justice Ministry will show some modesty and understand that the good of the country comes before the need to hold a trial,” the Kadima MK said. “Stability is important.”

Moshe Feiglin, leader of the Manhigut Yehudit faction in Likud, also accused the State Attorney’s Office of misusing its power, saying that “bureaucrats terrorize prime ministers and elected ministers, leading them to resign. This contradicts the idea of democracy.”

Feiglin, like Schneller, said a law should be passed giving sitting ministers immunity from investigations and trials.

Shas released a statement saying that it seeks to “strengthen former prime minister Ehud Olmert and his family following the great suffering they underwent in recent years.”

Left-wing leaders were not as forgiving.

“For the first time in Israel, a prime minister was convicted of breach of trust,” opposition leader Shelly Yechimovich pointed out. “The police, the State Attorney’s Office and the courts must continue treating prime ministers, presidents and others with political and economic power as they do with regular citizens.”

According to Yechimovich, Israelis should be proud of the Olmert conviction, because justice is done with the most powerful citizens, as well as others.

Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On said that the former prime minister’s conviction on even one count is “very serious,” and he must stay away from politics for the rest of his life.

“The verdict describes a corrupt politician that used power in order to make him and his friends rich,” she added. “His acquittal of crimes does not mean he is a moral person with values, and we should not try to launder corrupt behavior.”

MK Carmel Shama-Hacohen (Likud) scoffed at “the media and [Olmert’s] friends who are celebrating as though he won the Nobel Prize,” pointing out that the former prime minister was still convicted of breach of trust.

“Some said Lador should kill himself, but it looks like shame committed suicide today,” he quipped.

Fellow Likud MK Tzipi Hotovely said that “everyone surrounding former prime minister Olmert continues to be convicted, while he continues to evade convictions. The time has come to punish the person who stands at the top of the pyramid of corruption and not his messengers.”

MK Zevulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi) said that Olmert’s acquittal on most of the corruption charges “encourages corruption in the government, Knesset and local authorities, because it was proven they can escape convictions, and crime pays.”

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