Monday, October 30, 2006

Corruption and the Pols

Corruption is nothing new in any branch of government, in any country in the world. Israel is no different.

Mud slinging is going back and forth between police officials. Today revelations aired in the media of an alleged attempted bribe by a top policeman who wanted the job of Chief of Police.

According to media reports, police Major General (ret.) Ya'akov Borovsky allegedly called offered to drop corruption charges against then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, if Barovsky was appointed Chief of Police.

According to Israel’s Channel One news, northern police district, Brigadier General David Siso, suggested to Likud Party Central Committee member Salomon Karubi that in return for Borovsky's appointment as chief, it would be possible to make changes in the composition of the team probing one of the cases involving the elder Sharon. Ariel Sharon, is still in a coma in a Tel Aviv hospital, kept alive by a life-support system.

According to Sunday's TV report, in 2004, on the eve of a decision on the appointment of the next police commissioner, Borovsky met with Karubi, a close associate of Omri Sharon, in an effort to further his chances of being appointed to the top police post. Omri Sharon verfies that the conversation took place, but both Borovsky and Siso deny any meetings with Karubi.

Tzachi HaGegbi, then Justice Minister, was in charge of appointing the Chief of Police. He eventually chose Moshe Karadi. Reports circulated in the press that Karadi was connected to the Israeli mafia, who are very influential in the Likud Central Committee. Allegedly Karadi was appointed in exchange for the support of some of the Israeli mafia’s leading figures.

Hanegbi was forced to resign his position when the Attorney General indicted him for illegally appointing cronies to government positions.

Major General (ret.) Ya'akov Borovsky Barovsky today is an investigator at the State Comptroller’s office. That’s the same office that is now involved in an investigation of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for allegedly helping some of his cronies in their bid to take over Bank Leumi.

Former Prime Minister, and Likud Party Chairman, Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu is also in the news. A civil suit was filed against him by a Jerusalem moving company who claim that Netanyahu refused to pay for the cost of moving his furniture from one apartment to another, and for the storage of private items. According to the suit Netanyahu thought the moving expenses should be forgotten in exhange for government work the mover was doing for pay. The mover is suing for 350,000 shekels (about $65,000). Rumours about Netanyahu exploiting his government position for his own benifit have surfaced in the past.

At a late Monday afternoon press conference, Labor Party whip Ofer Pines resigned from his position as Minister of Culture and Sport Ophir Pines-Paz (Labor) resigned from the government, hours after a large majority of the Israeli cabinet approved the appointment of Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman as deputy prime minister.

Pines-Paz reportedly is planning to run for the position of Labor Party leader at the upcoming primary elections. Pines-Paz has said he would quit if Leiberman was accepted into the government. Pines-Paz has called Lieberman a "racist."

Israel Radio’s Reshet Bet political analyst said Pines-Paz had climbed a high tree and couldn’t get down without resigning. Labor party activists who support Pines-Paz in his bid for party leadership expected him to stand by his statements and resign.

Leiberman has been appointed deputy-Prime Minister with a special brief on security issues. Reportedly Leiberman has a plan to deal with the Iranian nuclear threat. CNN's Ben Weideman reported late Monday that Israel was very worried about Iran, citing Iranian leader's Ahmanijad's statements that he wanted to wipe Israel off the map. Weideman reported that Israel may well attack Iran without US help, much as Israel attacked Iraq over twenty-years ago, destroying the Iraqi nuclear reactor.

Leiberman is scheduled to appear on a panel at the Saban Center in Washington this week, where he may outline his plan for dealing with Iran. The panel he will participate in will begin following speeches by former U.S. President Bill Clinton and others. The panel is part of a conference headed by former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissenger.

Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Monday that Israel has killed nearly 300 Hamas militants in the last three months. This comes amid media reports that the Egyptian Army has sent reinforcements into Gaza to help control the Egyptian-Gaza border. Egyptian Prime Minister Husnei Mubarak denies that he has sent an additional 5,000 troops into Gaza to beef up the security forces there.

Israel has been operating freely in Gaza hunting wanted militants and destroying arms smuggling tunnels. A Hamas activist died in a tunnel two days ago when the tunnel he was building collapsed upon him.

Israel is worried that weapons smuggled in from Gaza will be used against Israel in the event of another flare-up. Meanwhile Hamas has continued to send Kassam missiles into Southern Israel. Two more rockets landed in Sderot on Monday. Approximately two rockets a day now land in the South of Israel.

Israeli security officials reportedly are concerned that should more sophisticated weapons reach Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Israel could sustain causalities and damage, similar to the Katyusha rockets attacks from Lebanon. Many analysts now believe Hamas is already in possession of some Katyushas and even anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons, the same types used by Hezbollah in Lebanon.

CNN also reported that UN Special Envoy Teri Larson is concerned about the steady flow of arms and ammunition from Syria into Lebanon. Press reports state that officials are concerned that the weapons will seriously upset the chances of peace in the region.

A terrorist cell was caught late Sunday night trying to reach the center of Israel. Four Arab men from the West Bank and one Israeli Arab woman were snagged at an IDF roadblock. According to press reports the Army had solid intelligence information that an attack was imminent. Israel closed off route 65, the Wadi Ara road, leading from the West Bank towards Netanya and Hadera. Traffic was backed up for hours. Highway 65 is now the temporary route used from the Trans-Israel Toll Highway (Highway 6) to the coast.

Jerusalem received about five inches of rain over the weekend, with more due on Tuesday and Wednesday. So far the Sea of Galilee, one of Israel’s prime sources of water, has risen about an 3 centimeters, but is still nearly three meters below it’s top limit.

Gasoline prices are scheduled to rise again Monday night, with a gallon of gas now selling for about $6.00. The dollar is now trading against the shekels at 4.28 to the dollar, down from 4.72 last spring. Exporters are complaining that they are having problems as their profits dwindle when they convert their foreign currency income into Israeli shekels.