The police have not deposed an incumbent prime minister, as Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann had the audacity to claim yesterday. This false accusation is reason enough to terminate his tenure together with that of the prime minister.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is not surprised that the police have found an evidentiary infrastructure that, in their opinion, makes it possible to put him on trial for accepting bribes, for fraud and for breach of trust. Olmert is the last person who could possibly be surprised - after all, he knows what he has done, whom he has implicated, which distraction maneuvers he has employed and how he has barefacedly attacked anyone who over the years tried to expose his corrupt behavior.
There is also nothing surprising or new in Olmert continuing to cast aspersions on others, calling cabinet ministers bad names and criticizing the police, the State Prosecutor's Office, ministers, journalists, public officials, and anyone else who helped bring the truth to light. This has been his conduct over the years; until not so long ago it actually helped him survive in public life.
Nonetheless, it is worth putting things in their place, not allowing the fabrications Olmert and his associates are spreading to take root in public opinion. The police have not deposed an incumbent prime minister, as Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann had the audacity to claim yesterday. This false accusation is reason enough to terminate his tenure together with that of the prime minister. It's not the justice minister's role to defend the prime minister from those enforcing the law. His job is to defend the rule of law and those state emissaries who enforce it vis-a-vis a leadership part of which is suspected of having committed crimes and part of which has already been convicted.
The police have published their conclusions concerning the evidence that has accumulated against the prime minister after months of intensive investigation. These summaries were publicly submitted to the State Prosecutor's Office, as should be the custom in cases involving a senior public figure. Throughout its history, the state has witnessed less transparent times, when the minister in charge of the police succeeded in shelving the file of an investigation of him, which was dubbed "Peach," without the public's knowledge [a referrence to the case that led to the dismissal of police inspector-general Herzl Shafir, in 1981]. Happily those days are gone, and the official in charge of the police, Public Security Minister Avi Dichter, is lending the investigations his full backing. Moreover, anyone who finds aesthetic flaws in the police's excessive transparency should remember that such openness is much less damaging than no transparency at all.
The prime minister will apparently be brought to trial in the coming months and will end his tenure in office well before then. To the credit of the political system, it can be said that it succeeded in making him leave long before the time when the law obligates him to. Had the Labor Party not decided to demand Olmert's replacement and had the ruling Kadima party not come to its senses and decided to hold a primary on September 17, Olmert could have remained in office until his conviction, running the country and tending to his trial at the same time, in an unacceptable overlap.
Following the Kadima primary, the new government must be put together as quickly as possible, to cut short the period during which Olmert will serve as transitional prime minister. From the moment he resigns, the question of his innocence will become his own personal matter. The question of whether someone suspected of accepting bribes, who has the audacity to attack the law-enforcement authorities for revealing this to the public, can remain in office for even one more day - that is the public's business to decide.
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