Monday, September 08, 2008

Israeli police urge PM's indictment for corruption

The Israeli police force have recommended that Ehu Olmert be indicted for bribery, money laundering, fraud and breach of trust, following an 18-month investigation.

Olmert is accused of receiving $150,000 (£84,000) in cash for political campaigns over a 10-year period, accepting tens of thousands of dollars in upgraded air tickets and expensive hotel rooms and of double-billing Jewish philanthropic organisations, including Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust museum and the Soldiers' Welfare Fund, to the tune of $110,000.

Police are also considering whether to recommend that Olmert be indicted for a third scandal, dubbed the investment centre affair, in which he, while serving as industry minister, allegedly granted state funds to a company represented by his close associate and former law partner, Uri Messer.

Dogged by a string of corruption investigations, of which there have been five since he replaced Ariel Sharon as prime minister in 2006, Olmert announced in July that he would resign when his ruling party, Kadima, holds its primaries.

The worst thing about the Olmert scandal is that it will probably pave the way for the return of Binyamin Netanyahu, at which point we can all forget any chance of a negotiated settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, as Netahyahu believes that God gave Israel the West Bank and Gaza.

Barack Obama, if elected, will find it ten times harder to deal with Netanyahu than he ever would have found dealing with Olmert or even Sharon.

Netanyahu is about as extremist as they come in Israeli politics. Indeed, the wife of Yitzak Rabin considers him personally responsible for creating and using the hostile climate which led to her husband's assassination in 1995.
''I hold him responsible for creating the very hostile climate which eventually led to his murder, so how can I ever forgive,'' she said in an interview on the CNN program World View. Mrs. Rabin described a photograph of Netanyahu leading a demonstration in which people were carrying a coffin bearing the sign ''Yitzhak Rabin - the murderer of Zionism.''

'He bears the responsibility for creating a politically horrible climate against my husband, saying this man doesn't know where he's taking us, he's misleading us, he is really destroying our future,'' she said. Asked if she could ever forgive Netanyahu, Mrs Rabin replied: ''I don't believe so. I really don't believe so.''
So, whilst Olmert's prosecution is long overdue, it really does make me worry about what comes next if someone as rabid as Netanyahu takes over. There will be almost no chance of peace under those circumstances.

And, should Netanyahu take over, we can expect an increase in Israel's bellicosity towards Iran. He recently stated:
"It's 1938 and Iran is Germany. And Iran is racing to arm itself with atomic bombs," Netanyahu told delegates to the annual United Jewish Communities General Assembly, repeating the line several times, like a chorus, during his address. "Believe him and stop him," the opposition leader said of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. "This is what we must do. Everything else pales before this."

While the Iranian president "denies the Holocaust," Netanyahu said, "he is preparing another Holocaust for the Jewish state."
Olmert may very well have been hopeless, but I somehow think we might miss him if we ever compare him with what is to come.

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