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Whatever the decision of the attorney general regarding the recommendation by the state prosecution to indict the prime minister for his involvement in what has become known as the "Greek island affair," Ariel Sharon has lost the moral authority and public standing required to continue leading the country.

On the face of it, the facts that are known in this affair do not leave room for doubt regarding the validity of the following conclusion: The real estate developer David Appel hooked up with Gilad Sharon, the prime minister's son, in a dubious deal in which he paid Gilad hundreds of thousands of dollars and expressed a readiness to pay him up to $3 million in exchange for what was defined as "professional advice." This questionable deal gives off a bad odor, when one takes into account the proven talents of Gilad Sharon and the extent of the consultancy fees promised to him.

One doesn't have to be a legal expert to understand what simple logic says: This relationship is based on sin and impure motives. Ostensibly, it appears to be a bribery deal, in which Appel bestows a large sum of money on the son of the prime minister (at the time Sharon was foreign minister) in exchange for exploiting Ariel Sharon's standing to advance his own business interests. Indeed, Appel was indicted for his part in this deal.

State Prosecutor Edna Arbel yesterday completed formulation of the indictment, which identifies the prime minister as a party who illegally benefited from Appel's money and who, in exchange, exploited his public position to help him advance the Greek island deal. Arbel's recommendation to indict the prime minister in this case is the logical complement of the decision to charge Appel over the same crime.

From the point of view of public ethics, Ariel Sharon has already lost the moral authority to serve as prime minister because of his behavior and that of his sons in the police investigations being conducted against them. It isn't just that the many suspicious affairs in which the members of the Sharon family are involved lead the public to the conclusion that there is no smoke without fire, it is also that the level of their cooperation with police investigators has strengthened this suspicion. Now, the state prosecutor's recommendation has given official authorization to the validity of the concern about whether Sharon's hands are clean.

The validity of the state prosecutor's recommendation now depends on the decision of Attorney General Meni Mazuz. He faces contradictory considerations: On the one hand, he will know that adopting the prosecution's recommendation will almost certainly mean the end of Sharon's term in office. On the other hand, there is the principle of equality before the law, which obliges him to judge the evidence against Sharon as he would the evidence against any other person; and the knowledge that the professional team in his office, which is responsible for taking such decisions, was unanimous in its conclusion that Sharon should be indicted.

In the public realm, the die has been cast: Sharon is not worthy of continuing in his position. The moral flaw he has revealed is leading to the collapse of his standing within his party, in the eyes of the international community, especially the United States, and of course, within the Israeli public.