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Friday, August 18, 2006

Dead man walking

Yes, it's Ehud Olmert, but not for the reasons you think. It's just good old-fashioned corruption, writes Ari Shavit in today's HaAretz.
Here is the news: Aliza and Ehud Olmert will be summoned to an investigation in the State Comptroller's office within a few days.

The prime minister and his wife will be presented with these findings: The price they paid for their new house on 8 Cremieux Street in Jerusalem is lower than its market price by hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The difference between the sum they paid - some $1.2 million - and the house's value - $1.6-1.8 million - is hard to explain. It raises suspicion that the prime minister and his wife illicitly received about half a million dollars.

There is another suspicion: The house the Olmerts bought had been earmarked for preservation. Converting a house marked for preservation into a house that can be torn down, rebuilt or expanded requires special and irregular permits from the Jerusalem municipality. There is evidence to support the suspicion that Olmert's confidants helped the contractor who sold Olmert the house obtain those irregular permits. If this is the case, the real estate deal was probably a bribery deal. The prime minister and his wife will be questioned about that.

Presumably, the questioning of the Olmerts by State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss' investigators and his adviser on corruption, retired detective Yaakov Borovsky, will wrap up the comptroller's investigation.

The comptroller will present the attorney general with a slim but weighty document. It is very likely that the document will leave Attorney General Menachem Mazuz with no choice but to open a criminal inquiry against the prime minister and his wife.

It is highly doubtful that Olmert could even temporarily survive such a police probe considering the present public mood. Chances are that within about two months he will no longer be Israel's prime minister.
Read it all.


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