It strikes me that the current, very specific allegations of financial malfeasance being made under oath against Israeli PM Ehud Olmert in a lawcourt in Israel may well be part of a plan by long-time supporters of Likud to take down a government leader who (a) was one of the leaders of the movement to split the Kadima Party out of Likud and (b) has been edging closer and closer to engaging in the true apostasy, from Likud’s point of view, of agreeing to withdraw Israel’s control from some portions of “Judea and Samaria” (the West Bank.)
As far as I can see, all the transfers of dodgy money to Olmert that are alleged by Morris Talansky took place when Olmert was still in Likud. Therefore, Talansky and the other donors rallied by him were presumably shoveling over that money with the aim of furthering Likud’s ends.
Olmert then betrayed them…
I wonder whether Labor or any other parties in Israel’s money-drenched political system are any more free of the kind of sleazy internal corruption we are now seeing revealed in the Likud of the 1990s?
Leslie Susser tells us this in Jerusalem Report:
- The limits on campaign donations only apply to the last nine months before an election. There are no limits on donations made between elections before the final nine-month run-up. President Shimon Peres, for example, received donations of $100,000 each from Swiss-based businessman Bruce Rappaport and Hollywood magnate ex-Israeli Haim Saban, and $120,000 from S. Daniel Abraham of Palm Beach, Florida for the Labor party leadership primaries in 2005; but although the funding was well over the prescribed limits, Peres was able to show that he received the funds before the critical nine-month period, that he registered all the donations and then used the money for campaign purposes…
The fact that so many probes have been instituted against Olmert and other public figures would seem to suggest a high degree of public graft in Israel. The once powerful finance minister and Olmert confidante Avraham Hirchson is about to be indicted on charges of embezzling about 2.5 million shekels ($750,000) from the National Workers organization, which he headed. A prominent Shas politician, former Health minister Shlomo Benizri was convicted in late April for accepting hundreds of thousands of shekels worth of services from a building contractor and sentenced to 18 months in prison. But Transparency International (TI), a Berlin-based organization that measures global corruption, gives Israel relatively good grades….
But where Israel is very weak in the corruption stakes is in the concentration of wealth in very few hands – relatively fewer than just about anywhere in the world. According to some estimates, around 60 percent of the country’s economy is controlled by 12 family business groups – the Ofer, Dankner, Arison, Gabriel, Charles Bronfman, Matthew Bronfman, Tshuva, Saban, Leviev, Bino, Borovich and Fishman groups. “This gives them enormous influence,” says [democracy researcher Doron] Navot.
Susser’s piece is broadly researched and well worth bookmarking.
She notes that “Olmert aides continue to … claim the case against him stems from a right-wing conspiracy to unseat a leader bent on making peace with the Palestinians.”
She concludes with this:
- the prime minister also has a serious political and public opinion battle on his hands. This was greatly aggravated by a mid-May opinion poll by the respected Dahaf organization, showing that 59 percent of the public think he should step down and only 33 percent that he should stay. Worse: 60 percent of the public do not believe his claim that he did not pocket any of the money, and only 22 percent do. But the most crushing blow for Olmert was in the poll’s election predictions: With Olmert at the helm, his Kadima party would crash to only 12 Knesset seats to the Likud’s 28 and Labor’s 19; but with Foreign Minister Tsipi Livni, as the party’s candidate for prime minister, it would actually win, with 27 seats, to the Likud’s 23 and Labor’s 15.
Ariel Sharon, as prime minister, also had to contend with several parallel police investigations. The difference is Sharon could have won any ensuing election hands down, from jail if necessary. Olmert could not, and in the weeks ahead this is likely to accelerate moves in Kadima to unseat him. Whatever happens on the Talansky front, it will be virtually impossible for Olmert to keep the party behind him if he is seen as a surefire electoral disaster and Livni as a safe ticket to power.