While the Knesset will convene on Monday only to disperse the next day, the elections campaign has already gotten underway and everyone is kicking.
Despite the softness demonstrated by the Jerusalem District Court, led by Judge Musya Arad, toward Ehud Olmert in sentencing him, it should be remembered that the former prime minister was convicted of four substantive breaches of trust. And a fifth breach of trust, not criminal in nature but a violation of norms and ethics, was committed by Olmert toward the court.
At the last moment, to avoid a ruling that his crimes involved moral turpitude, Olmert declared that he was not a public figure and that he would not continue to accept the government benefits to which former prime ministers are entitled (it can be assumed that state payments for the rent of Olmert's office in a Tel Aviv skyscraper and the salaries of his staff were immediately halted). Olmert claimed that he was a normal citizen and there was no need to consider the issue of moral turpitude. Yet, only several weeks later, Olmert is being featured on Israeli media outlets as considering a return to the political scene and possibly even running for prime minister.
Olmert's readiness to consider a return to politics so soon after declaring he had no such intentions is a breach of trust toward the court system and the State Prosecutor's Office. If Olmert's current actions had been anticipated, it is unlikely that the prosecution would have agreed to postpone a discussion on the matter of moral turpitude (the option of considering moral turpitude was never pulled off the table altogether).
Right now, everything is political. On Friday, Yedioth Ahronoth published credible information that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak had considered the possibility of making a peace agreement with Syria, before Syrian President Bashar al-Assad began massacring his own people last year. The U.S. confirmed that such deliberations took place. The report said that Netanyahu was willing to make significant concessions on the Golan Heights.
The assumption was that the publication of this report would hurt Netanyahu in the coming elections. This is not necessarily the case, however. On one hand, the Right will be angry at Netanyahu. But on the other hand, there are many in the center-left bloc who believe that Netanyahu does not seriously intend to compromise with any Arab entity. The Yedioth Ahronoth report could in fact help Netanyahu claim that he is not as hard-line as his rivals portray him to be.
The onslaught now being conducted by Moshe (Bogie) Ya'alon and other Likud ministers against Barak is also political. This is natural, but it arouses curiosity. Why is it beneficial, in terms of the Likud primaries, for these politicians to hurl criticism at Barak, who is not a member of the party? It is also confusing. These ministers have put Netanyahu in a problematic light, making it appear as if Barak is able to impose his positions on the government at will. This is not true.
This is only the beginning. Elections always provide a license to vilify, exaggerate, offend, make vain, swear to lies, spread charms and theories, mock friends and be photographed smirking with enemies (just wait for the photograph of the hug between Eli Yishai and Aryeh Deri when they are forced to run on the same list). But after the elections, a giant “Delete” button will be pushed, and it will be as if nothing happened and everyone will sit down for negotiations on assembling the next coalition.