Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Testimony: Olmert took $150,000 in bribes. Barak: Olmert should resign

from The New York Times: U.S. Businessman Testifies He Gave Olmert $150,000 Over 13 Years

Long Island businessman at the heart of a corruption case involving Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told an Israeli court on Tuesday that he gave about $150,000, mostly in cash stuffed into envelopes, to Mr. Olmert over the course of 13 years.

In testimony that is likely to embarrass the prime minister acutely at the very least, the businessman, Morris Talansky, said that much of the money was earmarked for election campaigns but that some was for Mr. Olmert’s personal expenses.

It included at least $25,000 in cash meant for a vacation in Italy and almost $5,000 to cover Mr. Olmert’s bill at a Washington hotel because Mr. Olmert’s own credit card was “maxed out,” Mr. Talansky said.

Some of the money was intended as a loan but has not been repaid “to this very day,” he said during seven hours of questioning at the Jerusalem District Court.

According to the prosecution, the money was provided between 1992, when Mr. Olmert first ran for mayor of Jerusalem, and late 2005, when Mr. Olmert was Israel’s minister of industry and trade. He became prime minister in early 2006.

Mr. Olmert, who is formally suspected of receiving illicit funds, has described the money as legitimate contributions for election campaigns and has emphatically denied ever taking a bribe. He has not been indicted in the case but has pledged to resign if charged.

The New York Sun: Defense Minister Barak Calls for Olmert's Ouster

Israel's defense minister said today he would use his considerable power to topple the coalition government if Prime Minister Olmert does not step aside to face corruption allegations.

Sounds like a death knell for the Kadima Labor coalition.

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