TEL AVIV (Oct. 3)
Aharon Abu Hatzeira, the first incumbent Cabinet minister ever convicted of a felony, began serving a three month sentence yesterday amid criticism that he was let off too lightly and demands that he resign his Knesset seat.
Abu Hatzeira, leader of the Tami party, is doing his time as a day worker at the Beit Dagan prison. He returns to his home each night. Former Justice Minister Shmuel Tamir said in a radio interview today that it was unseemly for him to remain in the Knesset. He also criticized the various political bodies negotiating with Abu Hatzeira “as if nothing happened.”
Tamir was referring to Likud and Labor attempts to woo the Tami party into a new coalition. The three-man faction whose constituency is in the Sephardic community, is a member of the outgoing Likud-led coalition in which Abu Hatzeira served as Minister for Social Welfare. He resigned that office temporarily and is expected to resume it after completing his sentence — provided that Tami is part of the next government.
Abu Hatzeira was convicted of misusing funds raised by a charitable organization. According to Tamir, he “behaves as if he had just won a sensational victory in a soccer or basketball game and all his supporters cheer and celebrate. One must ask oneself, how all of this is possible?”
There has been considerable criticism of the police decision to allow Abu Hatzeira to work off his sentence instead of being confined to a cell. This is permitted by law if the sentence is no more than 90 days. He was originally given a two-year sentence.
The Supreme Court reduced it to three months, leading Interior Minister Yosef Burg to observe today that if the high court had intended for Abu Hatzeira to sit in a cell it would have amended the sentence to 91 days.
There will be no Bulletin dated October 10, Columbus Day, a postal holiday.