Kadima wants Hanegbi for party chair

Despite conviction, activists persuade him to seek chairmanship.

hanegbi 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
hanegbi 311
(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.
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.
RELATED:Hanegbi case shows need for nuanced approachHanegbi plans to hold onto postHanegbi acquitted on 3 charges
“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.
“The expressions of joy and relief of Kadima members are merely the tip of the iceberg for the feelings accompanying Tzahi’s case.”
Segal, 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.”
Party 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 political experience.
“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.
“I 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.”