Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is in big trouble, being investigated by police for bribery allegedly committed when he was mayor of Jerusalem.
This is not the first time that Olmert has been accused of financial wrongdoing, but from what is said in the papers, it’s apparently the most potentially damaging accusation.
This is happening exactly when he is negotiating with the Palestinian Authority and under pressure from the US to commit to a ‘peace’ agreement that will result in a Palestinian state before President Bush leaves office. Unconfirmed reports suggest everything from ‘there is no progress’ to ‘he is agreeing to evacuate most of East Jerusalem and offering some form of right of return’.
It seems to me that a PM with the threat of jail hanging over his head, one who is massively unpopular and kept in office only by the self-interest of Knesset members who themselves do not want to face elections, is not in the best position to negotiate a ‘deal’ that will change the borders of the State of Israel.
Many in Israel believe that the judiciary is highly politicized — left-wing — and that decisions to prosecute Olmert or not, when to prosecute him and what to charge him with may well be made in order to push him to make certain decisions in the ongoing negotiations.
We can also note that the elements in the US government who would like to see an agreement favorable to the Palestinians now also have a way to apply pressure to Olmert, especially since a key figure in the investigation is a US citizen.
The continuance of Olmert’s government is dependent on his coalition partners. The best thing that could happen now would be for enough of them to resign and thereby force new elections, before Olmert is indicted — or worse, in the event that he is not indicted.
The Nightmare Continues — courtesy of Dry Bones