Ehud Olmert, one of the erstwhile “princes” of the old Likud, was convicted today of breach of trust and acquitted on more serious charges of corruption in two cases, Rishon Tours and the Talansky money envelopes. Somehow, this seems apt: breach of trust is a term that might well be used to sum up the entire legacy of a prime minister who was elected as a ‘centrist’ committed to the ‘peace process’ or at least (perish the thought) to unilateral withdrawals, and proceeded to squander thousands of lives – Palestinians, Israelis, Lebanese – in two atrociously unnecessary wars.
Fortunately, we don’t yet have to deal with the scenario of Israel’s worst-ever prime minister returning from the netherworld: The most serious and complicated case against Olmert, that of the Holyland apartment complex in Jerusalem, is still outstanding, and even if acquitted, Olmert is held in such contempt by most Israelis (largely for his disastrous mismanagement of the Second Lebanon War), the chances of him returning to power are blissfully slim.
But there’s one detail of the ruling I’d like to turn your attention to: While Olmert was acquitted, his principal assistant and secretary, Shula Zaken, who supposedly served as the go-between in the alleged bribe money transfers, was convicted. Among other things, of fraud. Yet the person on whose behalf she committed fraud, walks scot-free. Jupiter and oxen much?
At any rate, this is as good a day as any to reflect on the two most visible monuments to Olmert’s legacy: The separation wall and the Holyland project. The thousands of people who would have been alive if it wasn’t for him – Israelis, Palestinians, Lebanese – are, as usual, off-frame.