Another Police Investigation Against Olmert

Olmert becomes a "serial suspect" as AG Mazuz decides on another probe of his suspected corruption. Analysts say the right wing stands to benefit.

Gil Ronen ,

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Attorney General Menachem Mazuz instructed the police Sunday to open a third criminal investigation against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, regarding suspected wrongdoings committed when he was Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor. Olmert's lawyers have been informed of the decision.

The suspicions revolve around a company that was represented by Olmert's longtime associate and attorney Uri Messer, as well as political appointments in the Small Businesses Authority and in other assistance to his political protégés.

Investigations against Olmert are already underway regarding 1) the purchase of a home on Jerusalem's Cremieux Street at a price substantially below market value, allegedly in return for exerting his influence in Jerusalem's municipality to aid the contractors, and in 2) favoring his business associates in the sale of Bank Leumi's controlling shares owned by the government.

Analysts: Lieberman, Shas benefit
TV Channel 1's political reporters predicted that Olmert's coalition will survive the new investigation. They said that Olmert's main coalition partner, Ehud Barak, does not want to leave the government, and that his other partners do not care about the investigations. They also said that Olmert's woes serve to strengthen
"The heavy cloud over Olmert's head has turned into a dark and brooding storm under which no human being can run a country."
his more right-wing coalition partners (Yisrael Beiteinu and Shas), and to increase their leverage on him regarding diplomatic matters.

Opposition MKs as well as two MKs from Olmert's Labor coalition partner called upon him to suspend himself from office until he is cleared of the suspicions. 

"Olmert has no legitimacy to negotiate"
MK Gidon Sa'ar (Likud) said Sunday that Ehud Olmert has become "the most investigated prime minister in Israel's history, with the lowest public approval rating." He said that Olmert "has no legitimacy to negotiate the fate of Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and it is highly doubtful that he can continue to run the country's affairs."

MK Zevulun Orlev (NU/NRP), who heads the Knesset's State Control Committee, said that the new investigation launched against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has turned the heavy cloud over Olmert's head into "a dark and brooding storm under which no human being can run a country."

MK Ofir Paz-Pines (Labor), who heads the Knesset's Interior Committee, said that Olmert "is breaking records as a serial suspect in investigations." He asked to convene the Labor faction for a discussion regarding the question of remaining in Olmert's coalition. MK Shelly Yechimovich (Labor) said: "The moment when Labor can no longer serve as the fig leaf for Olmert's corruption is drawing near, and it should seriously consider leaving the government."

The Prime Minister's reaction to Mazuz's decision was to call the investigations "unnecessary" and to state that there was no substance to the allegations.