Browbeating the Law Enforcers

Former Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann and his successor, Yaakov Neeman have created a wonder drug for concealing governmental corruption.

At this week's annual Bar Association conference, former Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann assailed the investigations of sitting prime ministers that have been launched over the last several years. Friedmann lamented the results of these probes - one of which was visible yesterday in the Jerusalem District Court, where former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert began testifying in his own defense - and claimed that they have exacted "an enormous strategic and economic toll" on Israel.

To limit such probes, Friedmann and his successor, Yaakov Neeman, both support establishing a politically-influenced ombudsman's office to supervise the prosecution. The idea seems to be "if you dare to supervise us, we will supervise you."

Yaakov Neeman (Emil Salman)
Emil Salman

Friedmann and Neeman have created a wonder drug for concealing governmental corruption: If the prosecution and its head, the attorney general, get the message, there will be no indictments, and consequently, also no convictions. Those suspected of corruption will be eternally presumed innocent, and peace (and the government ) will reign in Israel.

The dangers of this approach ought to be obvious to everyone. But if proof were lacking, it leaped out from Gidi Weitz's report in yesterday's Haaretz on the draft indictment against Avigdor Lieberman - the deputy prime minister, foreign minister and leader of the second-largest faction in the coalition.

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein is due to hold a hearing for Lieberman, after which he will make a final decision on whether to indict the foreign minister. Meanwhile, months have passed, and will yet pass, and Lieberman is still dictating fateful decisions.

According to the draft indictment, Lieberman is to be charged with fraud, breach of trust, aggravated fraud, money laundering and witness tampering, because even while serving as a Knesset member and minister, he secretly continued his business dealings, which netted him millions. Among other things, the draft says, Lieberman is suspected of abusing his position as foreign minister to obstruct the investigation against him.

Neeman was brought into the government by Yisrael Beiteinu - indeed, at Lieberman's explicit demand - and the justice portfolio he holds is one of those allotted to that party. The logical continuation of the Friedmann-Neeman approach is to forgivingly halt the investigations against Lieberman and other ministers as well.

It's possible to understand them. But the leadership of the main opposition party, Kadima, is disgracing itself by allowing Kadima MKs to join with those from other parties in this assault on the prosecution.