Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

This blog is devoted to a variety of topics including politics, current events, legal issues, and we even take the time to have some occasional fun. After all, blogging is about having a little fun, right?

Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Olmert Tied To Fraud Scandal

You would really hate to be in Ehud Olmert's shoes at this point. He is facing political upheaval amongst those in his own party and now he could face an indictment over the allegations that he defrauded a number of Israeli charities:

Investigators on Friday said they had widened their probe into fraud allegations against Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to include evidence he had cheated various charitable groups, further imperiling his already shaky prospects for staying in office.

The latest accusation, announced in a joint statement by the Ministry of Justice and the police, is that Olmert billed multiple charitable organizations for the same flights, and then used the extra money to fund personal vacations during his tenure as mayor of Jerusalem and trade minister. In addition to billing the organizations, Olmert would also bill the government, the statement said.

The organizations included groups that help soldiers, mentally disabled children and the physically handicapped, according to sources close to the investigation. They also included the Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem, which operates under a state charter.

The statement said that a travel agency coordinated the fraud on Olmert's behalf. Olmert would speak to various groups during trips abroad and then ask each one to separately pay the air fare, according to the statement. A source close to the investigation said Olmert pocketed in excess of $100,000 through the scheme.

The allegations come in the wake of testimony by New York businessman Morris Talansky that he gave Olmert $150,000, much of it in cash, over a nearly 15 year period. Talansky said he believes Olmert used the money to fund a lavish lifestyle -- including a family vacation in Italy and fancy cigars. ...

Meanwhile, Olmert is facing political pressure from allies to step aside. Those allies include his top lieutenants in government -- Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni -- both of whom covet Olmert's job. Livni is expected to seek the leadership of Olmert's Kadima party when primaries are held next month.

Olmert has not said whether he plans to run, and political analysts said Friday's revelation makes it highly unlikely.

"Before, there was an assumption that he could last until the end of 2008. Now the question is whether he can last until the end of July," said Menachem Hofnung, a political scientist at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. "Olmert for all practical purposes is finished."

We have never been big fans of Ehud Olmert. In our opinion he is a dove that was made prime minister at the wrong time in Israel's history. The preliminary findings of the Winograd Commission accuse Prime Minister Olmert of "severe failures" in the 2006 Israel/Lebanon war and since then he has faced repeated calls for his resignation.

He has stated that if indicted he would step down, which leaves a vacuum that will either be filled by Ehud Barack or Tzipi Livni, the latter receiving favorable comments from the Winograd Commission. We do believe that this will finish off Prime Minister Olmert. If indicted, he will leave office in shame, and be rendered illegitimate in Israeli political circles.



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