"Hirchson's situation is complicated. It's unclear yet where he'll be when all the investigations are over," associates of Finance Minister Abraham Hirchson said on Wednesday. For now Hirchson's office is trying to maintain an image of business-as-usual and the official response remains that Hirchson has no intentions of stepping down.
Hirchson may indeed remain decide to remain in office however political dealings are already underway in his party to secure a replacement for him, with fellow Kadima member MK Ronnie Bar-On the apparent frontrunner for the position. Current Housing Minister Meir Sheetrit has also been named as a potential candidate and rumors have also included former Justice Minister Haim Ramon, should he emerge from his own legal troubles unscathed.
Prime Minister and Kadima chairman Ehud Olmert may also chose to forgo a political appointment and chose a professional economist in the interest of maintaining market stability. Olmert's aides say that the possibility of handing over the finance portfolio to the Labor party is not currently on the agenda – or at least not while Amir Peretz is its chairman.
Hirchson was questioned by police investigators on Tuesday following suspicions that he was involved in the embezzlement of funds from a non-profit organization and received a cash bribe. On Tuesday evening it was also revealed that during a return trip from Poland in 1997, officials uncovered $250,000 cash
concealed in Hirchson's belongings. This incident was not part of the line of questioning pursued by police on Tuesday but it will be part of future questionings.
Hirchson's son Ofer was also questioned on related embezzlement charges.
"He is well aware of the difficult atmosphere created by the publications accompanying the investigation against him, but he believes he will be cleared of all charges, knowing he is completely innocent," an aide said.