What They're Looking for in the Holyland Case

For more than three months, the investigation of a series of affairs that has come to be known collectively as the Holyland case was kept completely secret. Not a word was leaked by the core group of people who worked on the matter in the State Prosecutor's Office and at the Israel Police.

The investigation entered its public phase, which includes arrests, a week and a half ago. It is too early to judge how this will end, but it is not too early to reach interim conclusions. The police and the prosecutor's office have fulfilled their duties faithfully, and as far as is known, skillfully as well. The law obligates them to act if they become aware that a law may have been violated. Such a suspicion landed on their doorstep when someone (who quickly became a state's witness) disclosed a detailed account of offenses allegedly committed over the course of several years at many levels, primarily within the Jerusalem Municipality and the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry.

Law enforcement agencies did not seek out the witness. He went to them. At that moment, it was up to them to decide when to pull on the thread to unravel the web. Their legal duty obligated them to proceed. In a perfect world, there wouldn't be a need for their agreement with the state's witness. But in a perfect world, there is no underworld - and the way of the world dictates that illegal activity must be decisively proven, almost only when one of the parties to it incriminates his cohorts in exchange for immunity from self-incrimination.

The phenomenon of corruption is obvious here. People in positions of authority overlooked outrageous explanations and enabled a few people to fulfill every developer's dream: to buy low and sell high. Land bought at market price, which was burdened with limitations and prohibitions on its use, rose to a much higher value once the prohibitions were rescinded and the limitations removed following the purchase. There is no doubt that the developers benefited from these alterations. The key question is not only what the developers received, but whether there were others who, thanks to their words and signatures that permitted these developments, benefited in any way, and if so, what they got.

Former prime minister Ehud Olmert is only the most senior of the dozens of suspects. His version of events is that the corruption did not reach beyond the lower echelons. From the manner in which the investigation has been conducted so far, the claim that the police and prosecution are out for his head is baseless. Investigators are seeking evidence to corroborate or dispel the accusations. The court correctly instructed them to work toward getting to the bottom of the Holyland affair.