Rassegna Stampa Elezioni Israeliane 2009

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Israel official says he’ll indict Olmert

Posted by claudiacampli su 2 marzo, 2009

IHT

By Isabel Kershner

Published: March 2, 2009

JERUSALEM: Israel’s attorney general announced Sunday that he intended to indict the departing prime minister, Ehud Olmert, in a corruption case involving a Long Island businessman, Morris Talansky. According to a statement from the Justice Ministry, Olmert will be granted a judicial hearing before a final decision is made.

Also Sunday, Tony Blair, the former British prime minister, visited war-battered Gaza for the first time in his role as the international representative for Palestinian development. His visit came a day before international donors were to meet in Egypt on the Gaza reconstruction effort, and as Gaza militants continued to fire rockets at southern Israel six weeks after the end of a devastating Israeli military campaign.

The attorney general, Menachem Mazuz, is considering criminal charges against Olmert including fraud, breach of trust and receiving illicit funds.

The Justice Ministry statement did not mention bribe-taking, although the police said in September that they had evidence pointing to such a charge.

Talansky, a resident of Woodsburgh, New York, testified in a deposition here last spring that he gave Olmert money, much of it as cash stuffed into envelopes, over a period of 13 years before Olmert became prime minister in 2006.

Olmert acknowledged receiving the payments but said they were all legitimate donations for political campaigns. Still, the uproar resulting from the testimony led Olmert to resign.

Reacting to the attorney general’s announcement, Amir Dan, a media adviser of Olmert, said that Talansky’s testimony was “false and contradictory” and that the “mountains created by the police at the beginning of the episode have already turned into little molehills, and they, too, will disappear in the end.”

The Justice Ministry statement detailed transfers amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars for Olmert’s benefit.

It also stated that Olmert worked to promote a minibar business connected to Talansky, constituting a conflict of interest between Olmert’s personal obligation to Talansky and his public position when he was trade minister.

The statement noted that Talansky, who is now under investigation in the United States, had not yet completed his testimony in Israel, and that efforts were under way for him to return here.

Blair’s visit to Gaza came after militants from the Hamas-ruled enclave launched more than a dozen rockets at southern Israel over the weekend, causing no casualties but striking an empty school in the coastal city of Ashkelon and the yard of a house in the border town of Sderot.

At the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on Sunday, Olmert threatened a “painful” and “uncompromising” military response.

Blair met in Gaza with representatives of business and civil society at a United Nations-run school.

“I wanted to come to hear for myself, first hand, from people in Gaza whose lives have been so badly impacted by the recent conflict,” he said, according to a statement from his office.

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