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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 June, 2004, 10:41 GMT 11:41 UK
Sharon case splits Israeli press
Israeli press graphic

The announcement by the Israeli Attorney General Menachem Mazuz that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will not face corruption charges in the so-called "Greek island affair" sparks a heated debate in the Israeli press.

One daily says Mr Sharon can now "walk tall", but another believes a "Greek tragedy" still awaits him in the form of the problems facing his government.

Several papers also worry about the fallout from the case for public confidence in the Israeli legal system.

The prime minister had an unbearable burden lifted last night and now he can walk tall towards the political challenges awaiting him: building a new, complex coalition under difficult political conditions, and initiating a historic political manoeuvre - the evacuation of the settlements in the Gaza Strip.

Yossi Verter in Haaretz

From the prime minister's perspective, this was a complete acquittal, achieved by a detailed and reasoned decision not to indict. True, the attorney general based his decision to close the case on "insufficient evidence", but a close reading of his opinion shows that, in effect, he decided not to indict because he believed that no crime had been committed.


Attorney General Menachem Mazuz did not only clear the good names of the father and the son. He also cleared the way for the continuation of the prime minister's term of office, his political standing, the future composition of the coalition and perhaps even the fate of the political plan. In a day or two, the Greek island affair will be buried.

Sima Kadmon in Yediot Aharonot

The Greek island affair is now behind Sharon, but the Greek tragedy is ahead of him. There is no charge sheet against him, but neither does he have a majority. He has lost his previous ability to charm his ministers, to put their opposition to sleep, to enlist them for the cause. Why a Greek tragedy? Because the same blow of fate trimmed the wings of his two predecessors: [Ehud] Barak and [Binyamin] Netanyahu. Thus the gods have decreed.

Nahum Barnea in Yediot Aharonot

If until yesterday Israelis had cause to doubt their judicial system, their confidence couldn't have been restored when Attorney General Menachem Mazuz gave Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his son Gilad an unequivocally clean bill of health. Why is this disturbing? Because an identical set of facts served former state attorney Edna Arbel in drafting an indictment and pushing strongly for prosecution. The lack of indictments does not mean that all is well, and that our politics meets a sufficient level of basic hygiene. Most disturbing of all is the thought that the watchdogs themselves, those whom we task to keep the politicians honest, have their own explaining to do.

Jerusalem Post

From a wider perspective, it appears that Menachem Mazuz intentionally avoided pushing himself into the political kitchen. It may be that he panicked at his own power to change the political system. It might not be a coincidence that Sharon made Mazuz's selection possible. But it is wrong to criticise his reasoning: It will not be me, he seemed to be saying, who will topple the prime minister before a trial and without strong evidence.

Gideon Samet in Haaretz

According to Mazuz, a whole generation of district prosecutors has come to the end of the road. They have totally lost the confidence of the public. At this difficult moment for the judicial system there is only one possibility: [Former state attorney and Supreme Court judge] Edna Arbel and her colleagues must pick up the gauntlet.

Dan Margalit in Maariv

After what Mazuz said about Arbel, what kind of trust will the general public have in her? If [Justice Minister] Tommy Lapid backs Mazuz, supports him and accepts his words, then he should silently shed tears of regret on his pillow over his enthusiastic campaign for Arbel's appointment to the High Court.

Amnon Dankner in Maariv

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

Israel drops Sharon bribery case
15 Jun 04  |  Middle East
Q&A: Sharon corruption inquiries
15 Jun 04  |  Middle East

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