The Law to Encourage Corruption

Instead of encouraging the election of honest prime ministers, MK Ronit Tirosh has proposed that corruption should be stashed away in the freezer with investigations postponed until the end of the prime minister's term.

MK Ronit Tirosh (Kadima ), a former director general of the Education Ministry, had a brilliant, even educational, idea. Tirosh noticed that politicians who become prime minister of Israel are not too zealous when it comes to observing the law. Suspicions against them that have been brought to the attention of the authorized officials - the police, state comptroller and attorney general - have repeatedly generated criminal investigations.

But Tirosh did not conclude from this that it would be better to elect honest men, people who would be above suspicion, as prime minister. She concluded the opposite: that the suspicions should be stashed away in the freezer and the investigations postponed until the end of the prime minister's term.

Kadima's two prime ministers, Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert, both sank neck-deep into corruption investigations, though the probes began back when both were members of Likud. The party's current leader, Tzipi Livni, advocates "clean politics." But Livni was struck dumb, and by her silence lent her support to the bill Tirosh sponsored - to the delight of the factions that make up Benjamin Netanyahu's government, which can now claim a broad consensus for the proposal. This week, the Ministerial Committee for Legislation made haste to approve Tirosh's bill.

Tirosh's argument for freezing probes of serving prime ministers begins and ends with that lovely word "governability." She argues that the law enforcement agencies will gnaw away at the prime minister's power, thereby hindering his ability to govern and undermining the whole government's stability.

But if we follow Tirosh's reasoning to its logical conclusion, it would be better to cancel no-confidence motions as well, because a Knesset majority's ability to topple the government also hinders its governability. In fact, we may as well renounce Knesset elections, too. The thought of their approach is a burden on the prime minister.

The prime minister is subject to the law like anyone else, as is the president of the United states (for details, see those who investigated Richard Nixon and led the impeachment process against Bill Clinton ), and other leaders, too. And even today, no prime minister can be investigated without the attorney general's approval, so probes cannot be opened at the whim of low-ranking law enforcement officers.

Those aspiring to be prime minister should obey every law, no matter how trivial. To make sure the Israeli fish stops stinking from the head down, the Tirosh bill must be shelved.