Thursday, July 31, 2008 at 5:05 AM

Israeli PM Olmert resigns, and US Senator Stevens should too!

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

PM Ehud Olmert

When scandal forces most politicians from office, they invariably cite a desire to spend more time with their families as their reason for leaving. 

Therefore, it was interesting to hear Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert put an interesting twist on this refrain last night by citing his desire to shield his family from corruption allegations against him as his reason for resigning.

What is more important, my personal justice or the public interest? … People hurting my family bothers me a lot … I am proud to be the prime minister of a country that investigates its prime ministers.

[PM Olmert announcing his resignation]

In fact, Olmert has been under withering pressure to resign ever since the police launched an investigation months ago into allegations that he used bribes from a US citizen, Morris Talansky, to finance his campaigns and a lavish personal lifestyle.

More to the point, here’s how I lamented the crisis of confidence these allegations were having on his premiership:

It’s even odds either that in fighting within Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s fragile coalition government will soon cause it to fall, or that ongoing investigations into allegations of corruption against him will force Olmert to resign.

[The ceremonial return of Israelis and Palestinians to the roadmap to peace, The iPINIONS Journal, November 28, 2007]

Apropos in fighting within his coalition, there is no shortage of candidates lying in wait to replace Olmert when his Kadima Party holds leadership elections in September.  But the one most likely to do so is Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni

Ironically, she led calls last May for Olmert to resign – not over these corruption allegations but after a government report indicted him for the poor leadership he displayed during Israel’s war against Hezbollah.

Meanwhile, the Palestinians have responded to Olmert’s resignation with almost hypocritical concern:

The concern of the Palestinian authority is to have an Israeli prime minister who is committed to peacemaking.

[Nabil Abu Rdainah, spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas]

However, here’s how I lamented (in the article cited above) the in fighting amongst Palestinians that has been an even greater obstacle to peacemaking than Olmert’s travails:

Nothing is more delusional than [President Mahmoud Abbas] talking about negotiating a peace agreement with Israel while fighting a civil war with Hamas in the Palestinian territory.

Sen. Ted Stevens

US Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) would do well to follow Olmert’s example by putting the public interest above his personal justice.  Because he too has been plagued by allegations of corruption. 

Even worse, however, federal prosecutors actually indicted Stevens on Tuesday for making false statements about receiving over $250,000 worth of renovations to his home from a prominent businessman in his home state, Bill Allen. And although they did not charge him with taking bribes, the indictment alleges that Stevens and his staff granted a number of Allen’s requests for political favors.

(Note: The Ethics in Government Act requires all senators to file financial disclosure statements detailing all business transactions during the previous calendar year, including the disclosure of gifts above a specified value and all liabilities greater than $10,000.)

Of course, we all know how corrupt most politicians are.  Therefore, it’s an indication of how extraordinary Stevens’ indictment is that he’s only the 10th senator to be indicted in the history of the United States.

Yet Stevens, a veritable icon in Alaska and the longest-serving Republican in the US Senate, remains defiant and refuses to even entertain questions about resigning.   He is scheduled to be arraigned in federal court today.

I am innocent of these charges and intend to prove that. I have proudly served this nation and Alaska for over 50 years.

[Sen. Ted Stevens responding after being indicted]

Related Articles:
Founding of the Kadima Party
Ceremonial return of Israelis and Palestinians to roadmap to peace
Israel vs. Hezbollah: hardly good fighting evil
Israel war against Hezbollah

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