Thursday, May 08, 2008

The Wolf Howls For Olmert

And not only is he howling, but he's hungry for red meat.

The gag order imposed by the Israeli courts has been lifted and we're beginning to get a strong odor of what Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is being investigated for -and this time, I think he's going down, at long last.

Apparently an American citizen by the name of Morris Talansky freely admitted giving Olmert hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes during his terms as mayor of Jerusalem and minister of trade and industry between 1999 and 2005.

Aside from Talansky, who is the CEO of a company called Global Resources Group, evidence was also given by Olmert's pal and former law partner Uri Messer.

The Israeliinvestigators apparently have Talansky's affidavit on large sums of cash he handed to Olmert personally, and indirectly through Shula Zaken, his long time personal assistant. Zaken reportedly then gave the cash to Messer, who also apparently cooperated with the investigation. She's currently under house arrest.

Olmert held a press conference at his official residence, and acknowledged that Talansky, who's been nicknamed 'The Laundryman' in the press did help him raise money for his election campaigns, but that there was nothing illegal about the campaign contributions he received....even though there are no records to show how the money was used!

By the way, under Israeli law, just taking the money is illegal, and there's no requirement under the law to prove what the money was for or what Olmert may or may not have done in exchange.

"I look into the eyes of each and every one of you," he said, referring to Israeli citizens, "and say that I have never taken a bribe. I never took a penny for myself."

Well, at least Olmert has a future doing standup, no matter how this comes out.

And there are a lot of signs it might come out pretty badly, courtesy of Carl In Jerusalem:

"Note that Olmert's former bureau chief Shula Zaken's attorney said yesterday that his client has not been offered a deal to turn State's witness. That's why. The prosecution doesn't need her. (..)

1. Olmert did not show up at the torch-lighting on Mount Herzl last night. He spoke by remote video. He was afraid of being booed.

2. The gag order will likely be
partially or fully lifted later today. With the information published in the media abroad (which State's Attorney Moshe Lador called 'inaccurate' and 'misleading'), everyone acknowledges that the gag order is meaningless. Were it not for Memorial Day and Independence Day, the gag order likely would have been lifted on Tuesday night.

3. There will be
no three-way meeting between Bush, Olmert and Abu Mazen when President Bush is here next week. Bush's national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, tried to put a game face on that yesterday:

"This did not seem the time for a big, high-level, three-way event," Stephen Hadley, Bush's national security adviser, told reporters. "It just doesn't feel right as the best way to advance the negotiation."

But I can think of at least two other explanations for that meeting not taking place:

There is no
memorandum of understanding - as far as I can tell no one is even working on one. And Bush realizes that Olmert's days as Prime Minister are numbered and that he will not be the one to advance the 'peace process' - if indeed it is to be advanced at all.

4. While the top-ranking Knesset members from Olmert's Kadima party have remained silent on Olmert's woes in a bid to project an image of statesmanship that might bode well for them taking his place, the rank and file Knesset members from Kadima - those who would likely lose their seats in a new election - are
over Olmert
to stop conducting 'peace negotiations' that the country will never accept and resign.

5. The media yesterday had several stories about Foreign Minister Tzipi
Livni preparing to take over as Prime Minister. If Olmert resigns, Kadima's own
party rules require a primary to select a new candidate and I doubt that the
'best interests of the party' are going to move people like Shaul Mofaz, Avi
Dichter or Meir Shitreet right now. Livni may become Prime Minister - but only
in a caretaker government until there are new elections.

6. This morning (the report literally just came over the wires), there are reports that Ehud Barak is debating when (not whether) to
bring down
the government
. Barak cannot become Prime Minister without going to
new elections because he is not a member of Knesset. On the other hand, Barak
knows that if there are elections now, Netanyahu will win. He needs a
power-sharing arrangement to give him enough time to establish himself as a
credible rival to Netanyahu. That's not likely to happen. More likely is that
Barak sacrifices the short-term, becomes opposition leader (or defense minister
in a unity government with Netanyahu) and bides his time for a few more

Olmert said in his press conference today that he would resign if he's indicted. That means the country will go to elections..and Bibi Netanyahu and Likud are almost certain to take over.

As I predicted long ago, Kadima was a one election party. They're history.

As for this sordid little quisling and his pals ,the sooner he's gone, the better.

Soon come, Bubba. Soon come.

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