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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The gag order is off!

At 8:00 on Wednesday night, what remained of the gag order on the investigation into charges that Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert accepted bribes and laundered money (yes, that's now part of it too) was removed. While we 'sort of knew' most of what was disclosed, there's enough here to show that the police have a very strong case against Olmert.

A few minutes after 8:00, Olmert gave formal notice that he had opened negotiations with Syria in a blatant attempt to distract the public. Israel Radio has just reported that 57 MK's have signed a bill to require 80 out of 120 MK's to approve any land gifts to Syria on the Golan Heights.

Here's what we learned from the gag order being removed.
  1. The police have detailed memos from Olmert's secretary, Shula Zaken, that document transfers of money from Morris (Moshe) Talansky to Olmert's personal attorney and former law partner Uri Messer. The memos include dates and amounts.
  2. The amounts transferred come to hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years. No one knows yet how much. The prosecution is focusing on the period during which Olmert was the Minister of Industry and Trade.
  3. Talansky says that he transferred money for Olmert's personal use. Until now, we were told that Talansky did not know for what the money was being used. Now he apparently did know. Most of the money was for Olmert's personal use. Uri Messer confirms this.
  4. Both Talansky and Messer are cooperating with the police. So far as anyone knows, Zaken has been using the equivalent of her fifth amendment right (against self-incrimination), as it's known in the US, to remain silent.
Although Olmert is under serious investigation and could lose his majority in the Knesset at any time - and even if he does lose his majority in the Knesset - he still has the legal right to negotiate away Israel's vital assets, although he does not have the right to sign an agreement. That's what the Supreme Court ruled in the case of Ehud Barak in Taba who had a 34-MK coalition (out of 120).


Israel Television clarified at the outset of its nightly news magazine that it's Olmert's personal lawyer and former partner Uri Messer who has incriminated Olmert.

When Messer's name came up, someone wrote me an email and said that it must be a conflict of interest that Messer's wife - Didi Lachman Messer - has recently announced her retirement from the Justice Ministry. Maybe his wife convinced him to come clean?

As I noted nearly two weeks ago, Olmert waived the attorney-client privilege when he named Messer as having handled the funds for him. The problem with having no principles and no morals is that when you fall, there are a lot of people who will be very happy. Ehud K. Olmert has a long list of enemies. They are happy this evening. It is seemingly just a question of time until his career will be over.


At 9:28 PM, Blogger R-MEW Editors said...

Olmert is criminally insane and must be removed immediately. The notion that anyone could hand over parcels of his country to distract public attention away from his personal malfeasance and evade prosecution is beyond sickening. Even if Olmert goes quickly, Israel will pay dearly for his folly with the world demanding that the concessions he is now laying on the table remain a part of any future "peace" deal.

At 9:43 PM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...

Finance Doc,

Yes, in fact that is what happened with Barak's concessions at Taba three days before a special election with his 'coalition' being 34 out of 120. Those concessions have become the new starting point with the 'Palestinians' - at least from their perspective.

At 9:54 PM, Blogger Findalis said...

Olmert should have resigned the day after the Winograd report was issued. He should have resigned yesterday.

How much longer is he going to try and stay in power now?

At 3:28 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

I think its apparent now the Syrian gambit failed. Even Ehud Olmert admitted it led to no agreement. When you are desperate, you will try anything to save your neck. And Olmert's "May Surprise" probably fell short in its aim of getting public from focusing on the fact that he is indeed a crook. Olmert still won't resign unless he's formally indicted but in view of the revelations this evening in Israel, what little political capital he had left has vanished. Soon all the people in his government will be figuring out to distance themselves from him as fast they possible can. As for Olmert, he will be remembered as one of the most ineffective and undistinguished Prime Ministers in Israel's history whose only real mark has been to get himself in trouble with the law.


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