Former PM Ehud Olmert after verdict 370.
(photo credit: Emil Salman/ Pool)
Several Kadima MKs on Tuesday encouraged former prime minister and Kadima leader Ehud Olmert to return to politics, following the court's verdict that acquitted Olmert of the central corruption charges against him. MK Yoel Hasson also called for an emergency Knesset session on the state prosecution's handling of the four-year long trial that forced the sitting prime minister to resign his post.
MK Yuval Zellner urged Olmert's return to politics, saying that the country had lost one so its best leaders due to "recklessness" and rashly penned charges. "I am proud of Ehud Olmert, that he sustained the tough criticism and still managed to maintain restraint, patience and stood by his innocence."
MK Ronnie Bar-On joined the chorus of voices, saying "If Olmert wants to come back, and I think he does, he will find his place and others will do the math and find their places."
MK Yoel Hasson also expressed hope that the verdict would spell a return to the realm of politics for Olmert. "I am happy that Olmert won his case," he said.
"There is no doubt that a major injustice was committed against one of Israel's best prime ministers... The prosecution must reevaluate its relevance in Israeli society after ejecting a prime minister from his post for no reason at all," he continued. Hasson also called for an emergency Knesset session to discuss the state prosecution's mishandling of the Olmert trial.
Vice Premier and Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz congratulated Olmert over the acquittals and praised him for his past achievements as Kadima leader and prime minister.
Olmert fueled speculation surrounding his return to politics in a press conference following his verdict, saying "this will not be the last time you hear from me in the next few days."
While the Jerusalem District Court acquitted Olmert of corruption charges in the Rishon Tours affair and the cash envelopes affair, it convicted him of breach of trust in the Investment Center affair. The latter drew some criticism from politicians amid the many expressions of jubilation.
Knesset State Control Committee chairman Uri Ariel (National Union) said that the guilty verdict was a "black stain" for the state of Israel. "The conviction of a former prime minister of breach of trust, is a difficult day, a black stain in a severe crisis of public confidence in their leadership and elected officials," said Ariel.
Expressing a similar sentiment, Meretz MK Zehava Gal-On said: "The fact that Olmert was found guilty of breach of trust is extremely severe, and the verdict should spell the end of his political career."
Meanwhile, opposition head Shelly Yechimovich congratulated the state prosecution for charging Olmert: "The judicial system acted appropriately, with courage, and without bias." "Harming the state prosecution could have grave consequences on the justice system. For the first time ever in Israel, a prime minister was convicted of breach of trust," she said, adding that "all relevant authorities must continue to act independently of politics and economics, and must not distinguish between regular civilians and politicians."The Shas party warmly congratulated Olmert extending its support to the former prime minister and his family "after undergoing great suffering in recent years."
"The verdict underscores the need to continue to defend the independence of the law enforcement and court systems in Israel," she added. Gil Hoffman contributed to this report