Convicted Ramon leaving courthouse on Wednesday
Photo: Niv Calderon
Olmert. Friend in need, friend indeed
Photo: Dudi Vaaknin
Photo: Michael Kramer
MK Levy. Change wicked norms between men, women
Photo: Michael Kramer

Olmert expresses sorrow over Ramon's conviction

National Union MK Eldad says conviction is 'another nail in the Olmert government coffin'

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Wednesday issued a statement conveying his "deep sorrow over the conviction of his friend, former Minister Haim Ramon, on charges of indecent conduct."


The unanimous court ruling convicting former Justice Minister Haim Ramon of indecent conduct shook the political system on Wednesday afternoon.


The prime minister called Ramon shortly after hearing the verdict and expressed his sorrow. Olmert made no attempt to hide his disappointment with the fate of a former high ranking minister in his government.


It should also be noted that Olmert has held-off an anticipated government reshuffle until Ramon's trial ended. Ramon is a high ranking member of Olmert's Kadima party.


Senior sources at the Prime Minister's Office told Ynet that "now it is safe to say that Haim Ramon's affair with the Justice portfolio has ended." The sources added that no decision will be made on the distribution of portfolios before Sunday.


Acting Justice Minister Tzipi Livni said, "The court has spoken. Haim Ramon is a friend, and I personally regret the conviction. However, we must all honor the court ruling. I have complete confidence in Israel's legal system."


Knesset Member Dr. Yuval Steinitz (Likud) also expressed his regret over the conviction.


"It is unthinkable that a misunderstanding between a man and a woman, even if it caused one of them a great discomfort, will be turned into a criminal offense and a court conviction," said Steinitz.


He added that the Knesset would work to change the sexual harassment law so that "elements of aggression and coercion will be necessary to define it as an offense."


Shas Chairman and Deputy Prime Minister Eliyahu Yishai said in response, "I am sorry for Haim Ramon's conviction. He is a leader of stature and his trial grated the Israeli political system."


Yishai, who is also minister of industry, trade and labor, said that Ramon "will be missed in the ministerial landscape."


'A very sad day'

Meretz Chairman Yossi Beilin said, "This is one of the saddest days of my lives. I will never stop believing in the legal system, just like I will always see Ramon as a close friend and a man with great value."


"I fear the conviction of Haim Ramon may create mistrust of the legal system among the public," said Knesset member Ronit Tirosh (Kadima)."The translation of Ramon's acts into this criminal conviction does not feel just, and it sorrows me."


MK Avigdor Itzchaky (Kadima) called Wednesday "a very sad day both for a friend and for the Israeli public. This offense does not appear to have been malicious."


Itzchaky said that Olmert would now decide which MK to promote from within Kadima to a ministerial position and only then decide who will receive the justice portfolio.

MK Ronit Tirosh watches verdict at the Knesset (Photo: Yoav Galai)


But not everyone in the Knesset was sorrowful over the conviction. MK Yitzhak Levy (National Union) welcomed the court's ruling.


"The court defended women's honor and established that we must change the wicked behavioral norms in the relations between men and women," said Levy, adding that the conviction of Haim Ramon, who was one of the pillars of Kadima, constitutes "a terrible blow to Olmert and another step in the dissolution of his party."


MK Arieh Eldad called the conviction "another nail in the Olmert government coffin.


"This is the most corrupt government Israel has ever known. The government must resign and we must go to elections," he added.


MK Michael Eitan (Likud) said, "This verdict comes at the end of a legal process during which Ramon was given every legal right. This decision much be honored. It is a great victory for the attorney general."


Attila Somfalvi and Ronny Sofer contributed to this report


פרסום ראשון: 01.31.07, 14:06
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