Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday evening congratulated his immediate predecessor Ehud Olmert on his acquittal in the two most serious cases against him, while stressing his confidence in the legal system.
“Benjamin Netanyahu has complete faith in the legal system, and congratulates Ehud Olmert on his acquittal in two of the three cases against him,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.
Labor’s leader, Shelly Yachimovich, also stressed her faith in the legal system and her concern over initiatives that would seek to weaken the State Prosecution in the wake of the acquittals. Such “attacks,” she told Channel 2 News, posed a potential “threat to Israeli democracy.”
Netanyahu and Yachimovich were commenting after State Attorney Moshe Lador defended his office’s handling of the case, and after Yoel Hasson, a Knesset member from Olmert’s former party, Kadima, called for a Knesset committee meeting to initiate a probe into what he termed the office’s “unprofessional” behavior.
“When the work of the prosecutor is done quickly, in an unprofessional manner, while putting the whole country through turmoil, including forcing out the prime minister, and all this over nothing at all, we need to check if it was not in fact political considerations that were the decisive considerations in bringing the charges that were this morning shown to have been nonsense,” Hasson said.
Earlier, publicist and author Amnon Dankner called on State Prosecutor Moshe Lador to consider killing himself, saying the state attorney had “caused a prime minister to resign” and “shamefully changed the lives of millions of Israelis.”
Other supporters of Olmert have also gone after Lador, though with less vitriol, for charging the former prime minister and effectively forcing him out of office.
Olmert himself also indicated his displeasure with the state prosecutors, by having himself filmed speaking to his lawyer on Tuesday evening during a phone call in which he cited a portion of the verdict in which the judges expressed their concerns over the testimony of one of the key witnesses against him, former financial supporter Morris Talansky, an American Jewish businessmen who gave early testimony.
The judges seemed to be wondering even then whether it was “appropriate to continue” with the legal process against him, Olmert said. Talansky’s early testimony was a central factor in the rising political clamor that led Olmert to announce in September 2008 that he would be stepping down as prime minister.
Likud MK Carmel Shama-HaCohen lashed out against the media and people close to the former prime minister for “celebrating as if Olmert won a Nobel Prize.” He asserted that the conviction “should keep Olmert out of the political system for good.”
Shama-HaCohen’s statements were echoed by Meretz Chair Zahava Gal-On, who said that “the ruling painted a picture of a corrupt politician who used his power to make himself and his cohorts richer.”
Olmert was prime minister and head of Kadima before the charges against him led to his resignation and early elections in 2009.