Re­sign, Mr Olmert

The Jewish Chronicle - - Comment&analysis -

TheIs­raelipub­lichas,un­for­tu­nately,de­vel­ope­das­trong tol­er­ance for cor­rup­tion among their politi­cians. But there is a limit to what a na­tion can ac­cept, and Ehud Olmert seems to have crossed far be­yond that limit. The tes­ti­mony of Mor­ris Talan­sky this week has given us an in­sight into the life of a man fond of rather nau­se­at­ing lux­ury. Mr Olmert, we have learned, likes first­class travel, lux­u­ri­ous ho­tel suites, fine cigars — all bought with en­velopes full of cash al­legedly di­verted from his elec­tion funds. Other coun­tries suf­fer from their own prob­lems with po­lit­i­cal cor­rup­tion. But Is­rael is not in the same po­si­tion as, for ex­am­ple, Italy, whose neigh­bours in­clude no one more threat­en­ing than France or Switzer­land. Is­rael needs to sur­vive in a much less friendly re­gion. And it can­not af­ford to al­low such fla­grant ex­am­ples of po­lit­i­cal cor­rup­tion to flour­ish when it has to com­bat real threats. Gov­ern­ment needs to func­tion and fo­cus on real is­sues with­out the dis­trac­tions and dan­gers of end­less reams of sleaze. Mr Olmert has al­ready led his peo­ple into a dis­as­trous war, even though he man­aged to sur­vive the damn­ing crit­i­cism which fol­lowed it. As long as Mr Olmert stays in of­fice, cling­ing on to eke out the very last shreds of his po­lit­i­cal life, he is weak­en­ing his coun­try. Who or what may come af­ter him is far from cer­tain. But what is clear is that this tor­tur­ous strug­gle both shames Is­rael’s leader and en­dan­gers its ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

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