The recommendation by Israeli police that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert be indicted doesn’t come as a great surprise.
Leaks last week suggested the recommendation was coming, and the myriad police investigations of alleged Olmert corruption virtually guaranteed the police would recommend an indictment on one charge or another. After all, it would look very bad for the police not to do so after months-long probes that resulted in Olmert’s resignation.
Now it’s up to Israel’s attorney general, Menachem Mazuz, to decide whether or not actually to indict Olmert – for wrongdoing, it should be noted, allegedly committed before Olmert became prime minister.
This wouldn’t be the first time Israeli police recommended indicting a sitting Israeli prime minister; that happened as recently as 1997 to Benjamin Netanyahu. In that case, state prosecutors rejected the police recommendation, saying there wasn’t enough evidence to indict Netanyahu for influence-peddling.
In this case, there are few political ramifications to this news, since Olmert already declared he is resigning his post.
But there has been plenty of reaction in the Israeli press – most focusing on the way the news broke:
- Yossi Verter wrote a colorful account in Ha’aretz of the day’s back-and-forth.
- Judge Eliyahu Winograd (of the Winograd Commission that investigated the 2006 Lebanon war) said investigators over-stepped their bounds against Olmert, particularly in timing their announcement to maximize coverage on the evening’s nightly news broadcasts, Ynet reports.
- A source told The Jerusalem Post that Olmert will stay on as prime minister even if he’s indicted.