Tzachi Hanegbi resigned from the Knesset yesterday after it became clear that the prosecutors' strike had prevented the state from appealing his acquittal on most of the counts with which he was charged.
Hanegbi, who has been in the Knesset since 1988, was accused of various offenses in connection with the dozens of political appointments he made while serving as environment minister. Ultimately, he was convicted only of perjury, but the court ruled that this crime involved moral turpitude, which by law results in his automatic ouster from the Knesset unless overturned by a higher court.
As long as it was not clear whether or not an appeal would be filed, Hanegbi was only suspended. But he had previously decided not to appeal the ruling unless the prosecution did. Thus, once it became clear that the state would not appeal - since the deadline for doing so expired last night - the verdict became final, leaving him with no choice but to resign.
The story is still not quite over, because when the prosecutors' strike finally ends, the state plans to ask the Jerusalem District Court to extend the deadline for filing the appeal. Until the strike erupted, prosecutors had been dead set on appealing, as they were convinced that not only was Hanegbi's acquittal wrong, but also the reasons the majority judges gave for their decision set a dangerous precedent.
Nevertheless, the chances of this request being accepted are slim.
"I've had 22 fascinating years in which I had the privilege of serving the public," Hanegbi said yesterday. "I want to tell the other Knesset members, 'Keep working for the people and the state.'"
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said he was sorry to see Hanegbi leave under such circumstances. "Tzachi's past as a parliamentarian was fruitful, and I hope his future will be as well," Rivlin said.
The conviction does not bar Hanegbi from running for the next Knesset.
Meanwhile, the heads of the prosecutors' union are expected to meet on Sunday to discuss ratcheting up their sanctions. Earlier this week, the union had eased the strike because negotiations with the Finance Ministry had resumed. But the talks broke down on Wednesday, and no new sessions have been scheduled.
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