Netanyahu has work to do

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has officially escaped indictment for political corruption in the so-called "Bar-On affair." But he faces the huge task of re-establishing the confidence of the Israeli people and refocusing his energies as Israel's leader.

The prime minister does deserve recognition for acknowledging this week his mistaken judgment in appointing Roni Bar-On as attorney general in January.

Netanyahu also should be praised for promising to consult more closely with his Cabinet ministers when making decisions, and for pledging to appoint a ministerial committee on senior-level nominations.

Those reforms should help prevent lapses such as the short-lived appointment of the poorly qualified Bar-On.

But after a three-month investigation, Netanyahu needs to go a few steps further if he wants to restore the faith of the Israeli public. Blaming the media and his enemies for the intensity of the probe doesn't cut it.

If Netanyahu is innocent of all corruption — and the attorney general's report acknowledged that "suspicion" of criminal behavior still exists — he should act quickly and forcefully against anyone in his administration who is tainting his reputation.

Netanyahu also should use this time as an opportunity for a fresh start and a chance to reassess his administration.

Elected to office nearly a year ago, he now needs to ask himself how closely the vision for his administration is squaring up with reality.

If he looks back now, what can he say he has accomplished so far?

He wanted to privatize government-run industries. He hoped to foster more international trade. He wanted to create more security for Israel. He hoped for a better resolution of the Palestinian question.

Netanyahu has three years before the next election to put the scandal behind him and put his vision into action. The time to act is now.