Israel’s police have recommended prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu be charged over alleged bribery. While the attorney general assesses the recommendation, which can take months, Benjamin Netanyahu pledges to stay on as prime minister. He says he’s convinced the charges will amount to nothing.
Some people have pointed this out to me highlighting how proper institutions work in other countries in contrast with our own.
But this story reminded me of another Israeli prime minister. One who actually served time because of the effective action of that country’s institutions.
That was Ehud Olmert convicted of crimes committed when he served as mayor of Jerusalem and as Israel’s trade minister.
In between his terms as prime minister and as convict, Ehud Olmert made the news in Malta. Lawrence Gonzi was prime minister and Malta was selecting a new power station, a contract which would eventually be awarded to a Danish company, BWSC.
But a friend of Ehud Olmert was in the running to sell the power station. Ehud Olmert tried to intervene on his behalf. He tried to call Malta’s prime minister to speak for his friend, and Malta’s prime minister refused to take the call because here, then, politicians did not intervene in procurement contracts.
But Ehud Olmert could be forgiven for thinking otherwise. He knew of another politician from Malta, a rising star on the opposition bench, that felt differently about such things. Joseph Muscat looked like the next best thing and he, unlike Lawrence Gonzi, was perfectly open to a little nudge and a wink from private interests.
Unlike Lawrence Gonzi, the Labour Party took meetings to discuss the interests of Ehud Olmert’s friends. Joseph Muscat discussed the matter with the Israeli ambassador to Malta at the time. They discussed how awarding the power station’s contract to the common friends of Joseph Muscat and Ehud Olmert would be rewarded.
And then Labour proceeded to serve those interests with a slanderous and malicious campaign which obviously amounted to nothing even after they came to power and had every means to ensure appropriate action is taken to punish any wrong-doing. Their point was never fighting corruption. Their point was defending the corrupt. Which, even in opposition, made them corrupt.
It was a sign of things to come. Joseph Muscat would have no qualms to work with corrupt private interests for his own benefit and even when still in opposition would consider public procurement as a bargaining chip for his personal advantage.
His interlocutor at the time, former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert, ended up serving time behind bars.
For that, you see, is the fate of the corrupt where impunity does not reign supreme.