Daily Israel Report

Report on Olmert Corruption to be Published After Election

An offical report, allegedly implicating Olmert in corruption as Minister of Industry and Trade will be issued after the election. Independent journalist Yoav Yitzhak says delay is political.
By Scott Shiloh
First Publish: 3/19/2006, 5:15 PM / Last Update: 3/19/2006, 5:43 PM

The State Comptroller, charged with investigating allegations of inefficiency and corruption in the government, is investigating charges that Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (Kadima) used his position as Minister of Industry and Trade to make illegal appointments of cronies to top government jobs.

The report, which highlights Olmert’s involvement in the illegal appointments, is expected to be published by the comptroller’s office after the March 28 general election.

Yoav Yitzhak, an independent journalist whose frequent revelations of wrongdoings among Israel’s politically powerful have often rocked the establishment, contends that that the delay in publishing the comptroller’s report is politically motivated.

Yitzhak claims that State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrausse’s report shows that Olmert abused his privilege to make appointments by handing out jobs based on political or personal considerations. The appointments allegedly were put into place by the ministry’s director general, Ra’anan Dinur, himself an Olmert political appointee.

Using government ministries to make political appointments has become a major issue in Israeli politics. Tzahi Hanegbi, a Likud stalwart who bolted the party to form Kadima with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, was forced to resign his Knesset seat after being indicted on charges of making illegal appointments as Minister of Environmental Quality in the Sharon government.

Despite the bad publicity surrounding his resignation, Hanegbi sill retains his post as minister in the Olmert government.

Sources in the Comptroller’s office have confirmed that an investigation of Olmert is underway and that the report will be published after the election.

The investigation was initiated by the previous Comptroller, Yitzhak Goldberg, following a serious of complaints, including a number made by union representatives. The original investigation focused on the Small Business Administration, but has expanded to include the entire ministry.

Olmert’s office responded to the allegations saying, “Every day Yoav Yitzhak publishes a new story. When the report’s findings are published, we’ll have something to say.”

The Likud party, one of the Kadima party’s chief rivals in the upcoming election, has demanded that the Comptroller publish his report before the election.

A Likud spokesman said that when the issue is the conduct of a candidate for prime minister, “the public has a right to know the facts” regarding that candidate before the election. “The public must know who Olmert is before the March 28 election,” said the spokesman.