Saturday, June 07, 2008

Olmert will be brought down by the Knesset, not the justice system, which is how it should be in a parliamentary system. Nevertheless, it is interesting to consider on what charges he'll ultimately be nailed by the prosecutors.

The three main charges that are generally mentioned are bribery, campaign finance violations, and not reporting gifts. It will be hard to nail him on any of these.

Bribery -- The prosecution will need to demonstrate that Olmert received money with the intention of providing some quid pro quo (even if no specific such qpq was contemplated). This is a matter of intention and therefore hard to prove. In the case of Talansky, specifically, I doubt Olmert is even guilty of bribery, though I'm fairly sure Talansky passed him bribes from bigger fish.

Campaign financing violations -- This is tricky. Here is the law. Allowances for receiving contributions were intended as a leniency on the gifts law, so that instances in which these allowances do not apply are meant to be handled more stringently. However, due to awkward wording in the original law, instances in which the allowances do not apply are in fact entirely exempt from the sanctions in this law. Now pay careful attention to paragraph 28. The law applies to candidates in a party that has open primaries and only in the nine months preceding elections (these conditions have since been changed).

Again, these limitations were intended as a kula: when these conditions don't hold, receiving any money was intended to be forbidden. Conveniently for Olmert, the Likud did not hold open primaries in the relevant elections, so this law is not applicable to his situation. The Gifts Law is applicable.

Failing to report gifts -- While by any reasonable interpretation of the Gifts Law, Olmert is dead in the water, it is actually the law and not Olmert that is dead. This is because in 2007 the Attorney General needed to effectively destroy the law in order to save Shimon Peres. The State Comptroller had written a scathing report showing that in 2005 Peres had accepted $320,000 from Haim Saban, Bruce Rapoport and S. Daniel Abraham, which he did not report. In order to get him off, Mazuz discovered that paragraph 2 of the Gifts Law refers to "a gift given to a public servant, as a public servant" and decided that Peres received the gifts not as a public servant, but as a symbol. (I am not making this up, I promise.) In other words, that law is dead.

Nevertheless, the prosecution has Olmert dead to rights on at least one charge. Campaign finance laws require that he file an affidavit stating what campaign contributions he received, including a statement that the provided list is complete. Since he presumably did not declare the envelopes from Talansky, he is plainly guilty of entering a false declaration.

Anyway, by the time all this plays out, we will have long forgotten the Dark Period when some trivia question named Olmert was Prime Minister.


Anonymous zalman said...

Are you saying that -- assuming that the $ was used for his campaign, his failure to account for the Talansky $, by listing either himself or Talansky as the source would be a sufficient violation?

I don't think Olmert has said how the $ was used.

12:57 AM  
Blogger Jeffrey said...

Bimhera be-yameinu amen.

5:05 AM  
Blogger Ben Bayit said...

what's coming down the line won't be any better. The state is effectively being run by clerks in the prosecutions office under the oversight of the Attorney General with the approbation of the High Court of Justice. Decomcracy in Israel is a fiction. It really makes no difference who "wins" the next elections and whether it is a "right-wing" government or not.

10:10 AM  
Anonymous bar_kochba132 said...

I agree 100% with Ben Bayit. Bibi has already said he made a "mistake" in 1996 when he formed a narrow right-wing/religious coalition, indicating he will make a coalition with the Left after he wins the next election. I predict a coalition of Likud-Kadima-Labor-SHAS-UTJ-Israel Beiteinu and possibly a "Green Party" which I suspect will be the next one-term "centrist" party to get into the Knesset. My nightmare scenario is that Labor-Kadima will promise during the election campaign to destroy 30 yishuvim in Judea/Samaria outside the fence, while keeping the IDF there to "prevent HAMAS from taking control of the territory. Bibi will then agree to destroy "only" 20 and trumpet that as an achievement saying to the Right "would you rather have the Left in power?" (ignoring the fact that NO gov't ever headed by the Left has ever destroyed a single yishuv in YESHA).
In any event, I don't believe there is any "Right-wing" coalition any more. The Haredim get more from the Left than they do the Right. It was the Likud that made the drastic cuts in the child allowances and who dismantled the Religious Affairs Ministry and it was Olmert's Leftist gov't that restored it.

Based on this analysis, my inclination is not to vote in the upcoming election. We were always told "vote for the least bad party" and I ended up voting for the worst possible consequences.

BTW-Amnon Lord quoted a poll saying that something like 50% of the population don't view Israel as an independent country in the security/foreign affairs realm. Maybe it is time we stop kidding ourselves that we are living in an "independent Zionist Jewish State" and face the fact that our leaders are simply a modern version of paid puppets like King Herod was. Sad, isn't it?

9:09 PM  

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