Powered by WebAds

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Times releases more details on Olmert's 'Laundryman'

Wednesday's New York Times has more details on the man who was referred to in Shula Zaken's (Olmert's bureau chief's) diary as the 'Laundryman.' (Sorry, I don't recall where I heard that term used. I'm not excerpting the article from the Times because the gag order in Israel remains in effect. You can go to the Times' site and read it yourself).

The Times article refers to a lawsuit that was brought by investors against an Israeli satellite company. The background about that lawsuit is here. Publication of details of that lawsuit is not barred, so here is some of that background without the 'Laundryman's name:
At issue is a leading satellite imagery company, jointly owned by private investors and an Israeli government-run defense manufacturer. The company, called ImageSat, rents out spy satellites to foreign countries that don't have their own.

The investors claim that the Israeli-owned part of the company is killing off several profitable contracts because of diplomatic considerations. For example, the suit says that the Israeli Ministry of Defense pressured the company to renege on a multimillion-dollar contract with Venezuela.

President Chavez has forged an alliance with Iran in recent years, to the consternation of both America and Israel.

The suit also claims that the venture canceled a contract with Angola so that it could sell to South Africa, historically another Israeli ally. Politics got in the way of business with Russia and Taiwan as well, the suit claims.

As the suit moves forward, it could disclose back-channel communications between Israel and America.

The nine investors who brought the suit are mostly American and Israeli, and many of them were founding partners of ImageSat.


The only limit imposed by the Israeli Ministry of Defense was that ImageSat could not sell satellites to any country within 1,550 miles of Israel, a radius that includes nations that have fought wars against Israel, such as Lebanon and Syria. Israel also forbade ImageSat from selling to "rogue states" as defined by America and Israel, consisting of Cuba, Iran, and North Korea.

At first, Israel lived up to its promise to keep its hands off ImageSat, according to the suit. In 1998, to prove that ImageSat would be allowed to function independently, the Israeli Ministry of Defense issued licenses allowing ImageSat to sell to 60 countries, including Venezuela in 1998.

The Ministry of Defense even refused a request by the American government to suspend ImageSat's business with India after that country tested a nuclear weapon in 1998, according to the suit.

But after 2000, Israel Aerospace Industries deserted its hands-off approach and began steering the company according to Israel's geopolitical interests, the suit says.
The mention of Venezuela makes it clear to me that the 'Laundryman' either is a totally ruthless businessman or that he is definitely not from the right wing of the political spectrum. Maybe both. Either way, it makes it much more likely that he is not doing this because he wants to bring down Olmert and prevent him from giving the country away - as many on the left have argued - but that he may have 'helped' Olmert into office in the first place so that Olmert could pursue giving away all of Israel's strategic assets. My guess is that the Laundryman put Olmert in office because he figured he could make money with a Prime Minister who has no principles. That's a very wealthy Israeli way of behaving, isn't it?


At 2:16 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

With Olmert dragging his feet, it figures Israel will in all likelihood wind with up someone even further to the Left than Olmert in the interim as Prime Minister. The message will be if you don't speed up giving away the country's assets, you too will be forced out of office.

Not a good sign.

At 7:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's that smell?


Post a Comment

<< Home