Last night at an Anglo Likud Forum at which some of the candidates for the Likud list spoke, I heard constitutional lawyer Yosi Fuchs — founder of Forum for the Land of Israel that did so much to help the people of Gush Katif.
In the course of speaking about various subjects, he commented that he was convinced that Ariel Sharon’s total reversal of his previous stance on keeping Gush Katif was connected to legal problems he was having at the time. That is, in promoting the disengagement Sharon moved in accordance with a leftist position, as the prosecutorial and legal system in this country is peopled heavily with individuals who tilt left — the supposition being that any action against him would be delayed if said people were pleased with his actions.
Now, continued Fuchs, there is reason to believe that something similar is going on with Ehud Olmert, who came out of nationalist tradition and is now embracing stances “to the left of Meretz.”
Today the news carried reports of Olmert’s statements on completing his visit with President Bush:
“In principle there is nothing to prevent us from reaching an agreement on the core issues in the near future. I believe it is possible. I believe it is timely. A declaration is needed. I am ready to make it. I hope the other side is.”
This is a patently ridiculous as well as outrageous statement. Agreement on the core issues? Between now and February? He’s joking. That means agreeing on the division of Jerusalem and on the issue of the refugees, not to mention final borders. I’ve covered this ground already. The PA is not going along with whatever it might be possible for Olmert to offer. And yet he says this.
Of course, he covered himself, by indicating there wouldn’t be any interim declarations, because he was aiming for a full agreement. Which, by the way, is what Abbas has been saying.
But he let it be known that he wasn’t going to stop trying to reach that agreement and that he considered that it was within his jurisdiction as a lame duck, transitional prime minister to do so.
And now? Now we have a statement from Attorney General Menachem Mazuz who told Olmert today that he plans to indict him in the “Rishon Tours” affair, in which it is alleged that the prime minister sent bills to more than one organization for trips made abroad; the excess, said to be over $100,000, went into a special account and was apparently used by Olmert for private travel with his family.
Olmert’s attorneys will be given a hearing before the indictment is made.
What I ponder, as do many others, is why it taken so long. This issue has been pending for months.
Since Mazuz’s announcement, MKs from across the political spectrum have been demanding that Olmert suspend himself immediately.
MK Zehava Gal-On (Meretz) said Olmert “lacks the moral and public virtues that are necessary in order to lead.”
MK Ophir Paz-Pines (Labor) declared this:
“…a tragic day for the State of Israel. We’ve reached a new low point. It is wrong for a person accused by the state of criminal charges to continue sitting in prime minister’s seat.”
MK Aryeh Eldad (NU-NRP) said he was disappointed with how slowly the legal system has been moving.
“The public knows that a criminal is leading Kadima’s government…[I am] constantly amazed at Olmert’s ‘chutzpa’ – as he continues to give away territories to the Arabs and promises withdrawals while his only mandate is over the attorneys who will represent him during the trial.”
MK Michael Eitan (Likud) expressed concern about our foreign policy.
“Olmert should announce he is freezing all negotiations until a new government is elected…a transitional government led by a [soon to be] indicted man is a government lacking the legal and moral legitimacy required for leading a nation in political moves with far reaching consequences.”
Is this going to stop Olmert in his brazen tracks at last? His associates say he has already resigned [with the resignation to take effect when a new government is in place after February elections] and that is enough.
Olmert says he has no intention of suspending himself.
But Kadima head Tzipi Livni has been discussing this with party heads and may ask him to suspend himself. He is not doing the Kadima party any good before the election.
I will note here that Olmert categorically denied that Bush had asked him not to take action in Iran.