13 July '12..
This week’s announcement of the “not guilty” verdict in two of the three indictments against former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert became the focus of a post-courtroom drama.
Olmert’s defense team beamed with satisfaction, not only pleased as punch for a job well done, but quick to point a finger at (and give the finger to) State Prosecutor Moshe Lador.
Before the day was out, everyone in the country had taken a side. Those displeased with the outcome of the trial rushed to defend the State Prosecutor’s Office for having had more than reasonable cause to proceed with the case, and for treating even the leader of the country as it would any other citizen suspected of corruption.
They attested, and continue to insist, that the only reason Olmert was acquitted of the two more serious charges was due to the unreliability of the prosecution witnesses, and the lack of concrete evidence.
This group fears that the surprising verdict will unjustifiably tarnish the State Prosecutor — which, they argue, could have a negative impact on the ability of the “people” to go after their politicians when warranted.
On the other side of the debate are those who were happy with the relatively light conviction on a third charge — breach of trust — made out to be far lighter than it was by Olmert himself, his supporters, Lador’s detractors, and by much of the media. This group, consisting of Kadima party members and other friends of the previously disgraced premier, accused the state prosecutor of having orchestrated a witch hunt against Olmert, compelling him to resign from the prime minister's post three years ago.
They feel that it is now Lador’s turn to exit his post in disgrace. After all, they claim, it was he who single-handedly brought about the ouster of an incumbent head of state by going after him with “trumped-up” charges that ended up having no evidentiary basis. (If this had been true, the courts would have thrown out — not tried — the case; but that’s another story.)
This is not their only contention, however. Nor is it even their main one.
No, their key pronouncement is that Lador is at fault — get this — for having hindered the “peace process” with the Palestinians.
According to this assertion, Olmert was on the verge of getting Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to sign an agreement with Israel. And had the prime minister not been forced to resign as a result of a cloud of corruption allegations that hung over him, we might all have been celebrating the end of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by now.
Are they joking?
While it is true that Olmert practically begged Abbas to take the 1967 borders on a silver platter — and even threw in a partial “right of return” for refugees — the Palestinian Authority chief didn’t even bother dignifying the offer with a response. This is because Abbas had no more intention of reaching a deal with the Jewish state than his predecessor, Yasser Arafat.
It is getting tiresome restating the obvious, for which (unlike the Olmert trial) there is and always has been endless evidence: There is nothing Israel can offer the Palestinians, short of ceasing to exist, that they will accept.
Nor is Abbas at liberty to forge a treaty, even if he actually wanted to, without getting Hamas-controlled Gaza on board. It therefore does not matter which Israeli prime minister is doing the groveling at any given moment. What matters is which Palestinian leader will emerge whose goal is to achieve peace with Israel, not to annihilate it.
Judging by everything that is going on in Palestinian-populated areas (from jihadist summer camps for kids, to hate-filled talk shows for adults), such a leader isn’t likely to appear any time soon.
Two weeks ago, Palestinian Authority Minister of Religious Affairs Mahmoud Al-Habbash gave a mosque sermon (broadcast on Palestinian television and translated by Palestinian Media Watch) summing up the situation: “Al-Aqsa will be Al-Aqsa only, and Palestine will belong only to its people. That's the end of the road. That's what we must be certain of, to believe in. … We, Allah be praised, are not heretics and not misled; rather, we follow the path of Muhammad, Allah willing. Until Allah has His word — we will continue in this. We base ourselves on justice, we are resolute upon our land, and adhere to our rights. [Even if] they (i.e., Israel) burn our fields, cut down our trees, burn our mosques, destroy our homes, arrest, kill — we remain here, and they will depart; they will leave. Upon this land there shall remain only that which is useful to people, while the chaff passes with the wind.”
Abbas was in attendance, providing his stamp of approval.
I rest my case.
Ruthie Blum, a former senior editor at The Jerusalem Post, is the author of “To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the ‘Arab Spring,’” soon to be released by RVP Press.
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