Wednesday, June 16, 2004

At long last, Edna Arbel has gotten her comeuppance. Attorney General Mazuz was an unknown quantity until yesterday. I was worried that he'd turn out to be another cog in the prosecutorial political machine. In fact, yesterday he calmly cleared Sharon in the Greek Island affair (not the part that interests me -- see below) and just as calmly made mincemeat out of Arbel. Key quotes: "The evidence in this case does not bring us even close to having a reasonable chance of winning a conviction. There is reasonable doubt and sometimes even more than reasonable doubt regarding each of the elements of the crime."
"The head of the [investigating] team set up a target [Sharon] and this naturally radiated to the rest of the team."
Asked why he thought Arbel had targeted Sharon, Mazuz replied, "I have my ideas but they are only in the realm of ideas. The former State Attorney will find a way to say what she has to say on this matter. I have said all I can and should say."
Perhaps this is the beginning of a turnaround in the state prosecution but lots of politrukim will need to be cleared out of there. If you read Hebrew, don't miss this great piece by Amnon Dankner.

As for Sharon himself, I take little solace in the closing of this case. First, the pressure on him to behave remains; the Greek Island case has been closed but the Cyril Kern investigation remains open. Second, I have mixed feelings about the guy. He is a true leader who is willing to take the heat and I admire that. But the hitnatkut is misguided. What worries me more than the policy itself is the threat that Sharon is prepared to cause very grave constitutional crises to ram it through. Ignoring the referendum and firing ministers to win the cabinet vote were, I fear, just the beginning. He is perfectly capable of calling on the army to implement the evacuation even without cabinet approval. The first evidence of this was the publication of an evacuation timetable which explicitly contradicts the recent cabinet decision.


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