2-0 for the defense attorneys
Olmert's attorneys will claim that the precedent to allow former President Katsav to avoid jail while the appeal for his rape conviction is being heard should also apply to the former prime minister.
The revolution has succeeded. But which revolution is it? The one at Tahrir Square? Close. It's the revolution on Salah al-Din Street in Jerusalem. Over the last few years, a group of angry, confrontational, politically-motivated Israeli jurists hostile to the justice system has undertaken to alter the top of the legal establishment. These four - Ehud Olmert, Haim Ramon, Daniel Friedmann and Yaakov Neeman - like to paint themselves as a group persecuted by the law, victims of a vengeful band of people fearful of losing their status.
The emerging reality teaches us that the persecuted are winning. The state comes out on the losing end, but why is this important?
The means used for this end is a kind of reverse privatization. Instead of transferring control of state-owned assets to private hands, the authorities are adopting a private-sector approach that has been imposed on the Supreme Court and the attorney general, all at the behest of the justice minister.
For the first time in the country's history, the justice minister (Neeman ), the attorney general (Yehuda Weinstein ), and two justices of the Supreme Court (Hanan Melcer and Yoram Danziger, who were appointed during the Olmert-Friedmann regime ) came to their posts after stints in the private sector, all of them taking up their new jobs with the mindset of a defense attorney.
Danziger's decision to allow former President Moshe Katsav to avoid jail while the appeal for his rape conviction is being heard, the proposed legislation being cooked up by Neeman that would rule out criminal investigations against a sitting prime minister, and Weinstein's disappointing response to the leaks from Benjamin Netanyahu's office have created an alliance in defense of the prime minister. After all, if the client is always right, the prime minister can never be guilty.
Without citing him by name, Danziger has already bestowed on Olmert preemptive preferential treatment. It's certain that when the time is right, Olmert's attorneys will claim that the Katsav precedent should also apply to the former premier. The judges presiding over the Olmert case in the Jerusalem District Court on Salah al-Din Street will know that during the proceedings, many years of appeals await them, even if a guilty verdict and prison sentence are handed down.
Ultimately, after all legal options have been exhausted (who is doing the exhausting and what is being exhausted are different matters altogether ), a quasi-popular movement championing amnesty for Olmert will arise, much as it did with Katsav.
Just as Danziger wanted Katsav and got Olmert, Neeman's initiative (with the generous assistance of Kadima MK Ronit Tirosh ) is a gift not just for prime ministers who are haunted by their pasts and can now breathe a sigh of relief while mocking the police and State Prosecutor's Office. It's also a gift for the prime minister's alleged co-conspirators who do not hold high office.
It's very rare for the prime minister to be the lone suspect in a criminal investigation; for example, if he is alleged to have inappropriately used public funds, or is arrested for public nudity, or committing indecent acts in public. Thus far, in every investigation of the prime minister, accomplices have emerged, either as facilitators of the crime or as offerers of bribes. Delaying an investigation of one suspect, the prime minister, will in impinge on the entire investigation.
The closure of the Greek island investigation against Ariel Sharon in 2004 absolved businessman David Appel. The Neeman bill would thus serve as an incentive to criminals, who would do well to engage in wrongdoing in partnership with the next Olmert, rather than with the Rosensteins or Abergils of the world.
The same principle - albeit from a different perspective - applies to the investigation of the news leaks. This is always a problematic issue to investigate. When weighing the considerations (those of the state, not the news media ), one concludes that such an investigation would best be avoided.
When a panic-stricken Netanyahu ordered such a probe, Weinstein should have shown courage and independence by conditioning it on equitable treatment for everyone implicated, not just for the recipients of the leak. In other words, no double standard for elected officials and their underlings. Investigations that discriminate against people questioned against their will are not only unfair, they are doomed to fail.
When the investigation was reopened by the Shin Bet deputy head, Y., and with the approval of the security service's chief at the time, Yuval Diskin, Y. was denied a promotion to the top slot. This was the nadir in relations between Netanyahu - whose key aide, Uzi Arad, was stung by the probe - and Diskin. It was a way for the prime minister to say, "If you harm my guy, I'll harm your guy." Yoram Cohen, who by chance comes from a background that is favored by Neeman, was named the new Shin Bet head. Neeman is a close confidant of Benjamin and Sara Netanyahu. These are just the circumstantial facts. An experienced defense attorney would have smashed the case to smithereens.
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