It was ironic that Israel's Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz announced his decision to indict Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's son, Knesset member Omri Sharon, on criminal corruption charges related to his management of his father's political campaigns – charges that could lead to five years' imprisonment – at the same time the prime minister was en route to Paris for a state visit.
The timing of Mazuz's announcement was ironic because it brought to the surface just how similar 72-year-old French President Jacques Chirac and 76-year-old Ariel Sharon are. Omri's indictment, which reinforces the already entrenched public perception of Sharon's corruption, aligns nicely with the corruption scandals that have plagued Chirac for the past several years. The Paris prosecutors are reportedly eagerly awaiting Chirac's departure from office in 2007 to indict him for corruption charges stemming from his tenure as Paris mayor in the 1990s. In May, the US Senate's investigation of the UN's oil-for-food scandal revealed that former French interior minister Charles Pasqua, a man who the committee described as a "longtime friend and political ally" of Chirac, received oil vouchers for 11 million barrels of Iraqi oil. Pasqua has denied the charges.
This week it was reported that longtime Sharon crony South African businessman Cyril Kern is an investor in a project to build a casino in Elei Sinai in the northern Gaza Strip after the government expels the community's Jewish residents next month. Allegations that Kern illegally funded Sharon's political campaigns form the basis for one of the ongoing criminal investigations being conducted against the premier.
On Tuesday, the Knesset State Control Committee launched an investigation into Brig.-Gen. (res.) Eival Giladi, who serves in the Prime Minister's Office as the coordinator of all governmental activities related to the withdrawal of the IDF and the expulsion of Jewish residents from the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria. Earlier in the month Makor Rishon newspaper and Israel News Resource Agency revealed that Giladi also serves as the director of the British nonprofit Portland Trust, which is seeking to raise $500 million in investment funds to develop Gush Katif after it is emptied of its Jewish residents in the operation that Giladi oversees.
Aside from their age and suspected corruption, Chirac and Sharon also share a disdain for popular democracy. In his relentless drive to build up the European Union under Franco-German leadership as a counterweight to the US, Chirac has done more than any other single European leader in recent years to transform European nation-states into mere vassals of the post-democratic regime of unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats in Brussels.
Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, where this article first appeared.
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