Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would not be where he is today without the corruption charges that toppled the government of his predecessor, Ehud Olmert, in 2009. Although Olmert (at right) is not quite out of the woods, he was cleared of two major allegations Tuesday.

Olmert is probably best known in the United States for prosecuting separate but equally brutal assaults on Gaza and Lebanon, both of which raised serious human rights concerns. (Read Chris Hedges’ column on the Gaza conflict here.)

Olmert took the reins of power after the sudden stroke of then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Sharon, who left the conservative Likud party that now sits atop Israeli politics, had overseen the withdrawal of Israeli forces and settlers from Gaza and reportedly had plans to do the same in much of the West Bank.

How different things might have been.

— Posted by Peter Z. Scheer

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