Analysis: The harder they fall

Olmert always wanted to make history, and now he has.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
August 31, 2009 01:26
2 minute read.
Analysis: The harder they fall

olmert worried 248.88 ap. (photo credit: AP [file])

Thanks to former premier Ehud Olmert, for the first time in Israel's history, a prime minister, current or past, has been indicted. Olmert always wanted to make history, and now he has. His entry in the history books will certainly look a lot different than he had hoped. Rather than falling on the sword of peace as he had wanted, he fell on the sword of political corruption. The investigations led to his July 30, 2008, resignation and the subsequent election, in which, though Tzipi Livni was chosen to succeed him as the head of Kadima, and Binyamin Netanyahu ended up at the helm of the country. Imagine if Olmert had been coddled like a citron by the press like his predecessor, prime minister Ariel Sharon, and the investigations that led to Sunday's indictment and other probes that led nowhere never saw the light of day. Olmert might still be in power, and US President Barack Obama would be working with a prime minister hungry for a diplomatic deal, and not against one raring for reciprocity like Netanyahu. Shortly before he left office, Olmert offered Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas land amounting to 100 percent of the West Bank, the absorption of 30,000 Palestinians who consider themselves refugees within Israel's final borders, and the internationalization of Jerusalem's Old City under the joint stewardship of Israel, a Palestinian state, America and Saudi Arabia. Had Abbas said yes, perhaps Olmert would have been remembered as the man who decided Israel's final borders. His pursuit of peace might have merited the headline in the item about him in the history books, or at least a subheadline underneath the headline about his corruption. But the offer was made when Olmert had already stepped down and was already a lame duck. Abbas's rejection of the deal and the lack of success in the Second Lebanon War served as bookends of a premiership in which too much of what could have gone wrong, went wrong. Others took the blame for the war and Abbas deserves the blame for rejecting the best deal the Palestinians will ever get. But Olmert has only himself to blame for his alleged crimes and his definite lack of transparency. It seems fitting that the indictment was announced the same week that former ministers Avraham Hirchson and Shlomo Benizri enter jail and the trial of former president Moshe Katsav begins. All of these incidents indicate that we have entered an era in which politicians cannot get away with everything anymore. Most of the crimes they were accused of are a lot more serious than Olmert's alleged offenses. But none of them was in the position that Olmert was in, deciding matters of war and peace. Regardless of what happens at Olmert's trial, his comedown has already proven that the bigger they are, the harder they fall.


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