Politicians from across the political spectrum took turns dancing on former prime minister Ehud Olmert’s political coffin Monday when he was convicted on bribery charges in the Holyland trial.
The Right and the Left united in denouncing Olmert’s corruption.
But while the Left gave credit to the legal system, the Right said his conviction came from God, due to his role in the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and his desire to evacuate most of the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.
“God does not report to me about his decision-making,” admitted Likud MK Moshe Feiglin. “But my gut told me that every person who had a part in the abomination of expelling Jews from their land was indeed punished at the end of the day.”
Feiglin accused Olmert of initiating the Second Lebanon War to “put wind in the sails” of his convergence plan to withdraw from Judea and Samaria. He said Olmert had “brought about the death of soldiers and civilians in a senseless war” in order to come out of it as “a war hero who would have the legitimacy to destroy all of the settlements, to bring about ‘peace.’”
The Campaign to Save the People and the Land released a statement that said a historic wrong had been corrected, because former prime minister Ariel Sharon avoided a conviction due to the stroke that ended his political career and ultimately killed him. The campaign warned Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu not to follow in the footsteps of his predecessors.
“Don’t reach any agreement with the Arabs and learn lessons from the bitter end of Olmert, Sharon, and [assassinated former prime minister Yitzhak] Rabin, who led Israel to security dangers and missiles on our cities,” the campaign warned Netanyahu.
Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett wrote on Facebook that Israel had taken a big step today toward a more moral leadership and that the state was cleansing itself of corruption. He said Jewish history had taught that when you have corrupt leadership, the country falls apart.
“A leader is allowed to make a mistake,” he said. “Everyone who enters the political arena makes mistakes. It’s okay. A leader must not be corrupt. Corruption is when you take advantage of your public position for your own personal gain. Once an elected representative stops working for the public and starts to work solely for his own benefit, the public ceases to believe in him. The public loses trust and stops believing in the country.”
On the Left, Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On praised Judge David Rozen for seeing through a media spin campaign that she said had been created by Olmert and his associates.
“He convicted one of the most corrupt politicians in the history of the state for accepting bribes,” she said.
“The conviction solidifies the rule of law, proving to spin doctors and PR people that leaders are not above the law.”
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Labor) called the verdict a badge of pride for the Israeli legal system and its struggle against corruption.
Labor MK Shelly Yacimovich said that the conviction would “clean up the contamination and corruption that Olmert sullied the leadership of the state with.”
She called Olmert a “habitual criminal who repeatedly, over decades, took advantage of his power and connections to get rich, and had succeeded in evading justice time and again.”
She said that it was painful that such a man rose to a position of power, but Israeli citizens can now be proud that justice has been done.