Decision to Indict Lieberman Is Badge of Honor for Israel Police

The process is no less important than the outcome: Police stress that the main thing is not a court conviction but bringing the culprit to trial.

The attorney general's decision to indict Lieberman was a certificate of honor for generations of police investigators, from Moshe Mizrahi and Miri Golan to Shlomi Ayalon and the fraud squad's heads in recent years, Yohanan Danino and Yoav Segalovich.

The police were castigated more than once over that time. The Or Commission investigating the October 2000 events described the force's "culture of lying." The Zeiler Committee investigating the Parinyan affair recycled this expression, exposing deeply-rooted improprieties.

Avigdor Lieberman
Tomer Appelbaum

This week the state comptroller slammed the police for faulty coordination between its various districts, units and officers.

But if we denounce the culture of lying, we must also admit that an investigation culture has developed. Amid political pressure and sometimes personal attacks, the police's investigation and intelligence division strove to bring corruption to justice. In the past five years their investigations have led to indictments against a president, a prime minister and finance, justice, welfare and foreign ministers. Therefore Police Commissioner David Cohen (a former division head ), Danino and Segalovich should be commended.

Segalovich stresses that the main thing is not a court conviction but bringing the culprit to trial, if the investigators recommend doing so. The process is no less important than the outcome. The police officers are not judges, and between them and the court there are lawyers. Professional success is measured by solving a web of offenses, in finding evidence (or alternatively recommending to close the case ) and drafting the charge sheet.

In Lieberman's case, Segalovich and Ayalon waited for the prosecution and attorney general - Mazuz and then Weinstein - to make up their minds. Yesterday they heaved a sigh of relief.

Weinstein, who was looking for flaws in the case, has in fact already held a hearing for Lieberman, vis-a-vis the prosecution. Ultimately, it was Lieberman's arrogance that brought him down. He was caught for offenses he committed while still under the earlier investigations, at which time he would regularly attack the police in general and Mizrahi in particular.

If Lieberman doesn't quit voluntarily, Netanyahu will have to explain how he is keeping a foreign minister who is on trial for money-laundering. If Netanyahu holds on to Lieberman's coattails while fighting to restore his own image on matters of morals and ethics, he will lose all pretension of leading Israel in foreign and defense affairs.