'Olmert scheming against Winograd'

Handful of MKs accuse the PM of choosing a fierce critic of the justice system to take revenge against those investigating him.

olmert 88 (photo credit: )
olmert 88
(photo credit: )
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert appointed Prof. Daniel Friedmann justice minister in hopes of influencing the verdict of the Winograd Commission investigating his handling of the war in Lebanon, a handful of MKs alleged on Thursday. Since Olmert announced Friedmann's appointment on Tuesday, MKs have been accusing him of selecting a fierce critic of the justice system to take revenge against the investigations against him and the targeting of Friedmann's predecessor, Haim Ramon. The MKs escalated the attack on Olmert Thursday when they suggested that Friedmann was selected because of his vocal support for the appointment of Winograd Commission member Ruth Gavison to the Supreme Court. They suggested that Olmert wanted to find favor with Gavison in hopes that she would clear him in the commission's report, which is set to be published within the next month. "When [then-] justice minister Tzipi Livni recommended appointing Ruth Gavison, it was a fitting appointment that could have enriched the variety of opinions on the Supreme Court," Friedmann wrote recently. "But it once again became clear that the Supreme Court justices wanted to prevent the appointment, because they didn't agree with Gavison's views." MK Zvi Hendel (National Union) said he was convinced that influencing the Winograd Commission was one improper reason of many that Olmert chose Friedmann. "Olmert is my prime minister... but he is not a clean man," Hendel said. "When a man is not honest, he takes into account many considerations that are improper. It could be because he is angry at the attorney-general and the professor doesn't like the attorney-general, and it could be that he wants to take revenge against the courts, and Gavison could also be the reason. Either way, Olmert is dangerous for Israel." Labor leadership candidate Ophir Paz-Pines, one of three coalition MKs who voted against Friedmann, put it more subtly, saying: "I am sure the fact that new justice minister supports Gavison for the Supreme Court will not impact her objective work in the Winograd Commission." Gavison's spokesman called the accusations "delusional" and said they had no basis in reality. Olmert's spokesman said Friedmann was chosen solely for his qualifications and that such criticism was "nonsense." Friedmann's spokesman said he had not made a final decision yet regarding whom he would support appointing to the Supreme Court.