Barak associate: Talansky case delays ceasefire

Barak associate: Gov't in state of "semi-paralysis," making security, diplomatic decisions difficult.

olmert poser 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
olmert poser 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's legal and political troubles have been holding up the implementation of a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip between Israel and Hamas, sources close to Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Wednesday. According to the officials, the investigation into Olmert's financial dealings with businessman Morris Talansky and the ensuing political instability have sent the government into a state of "semi-paralysis," making it very difficult to reach decisions on key security and diplomatic issues. Olmert is currently in Washington DC where he met Wednesday night with President George W. Bush. "We could have already reached a ceasefire with Hamas," one official said. "What is currently holding it up is Olmert and his political tribulations." The officials were critical of Olmert's decision earlier this week to cancel senior Barak aide Amos Gilad's trip to Cairo, where he was supposed to meet with Egyptian Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman, the key official mediating between Israel and Hamas. The officials said that Egypt was "sympathetic" to Israel's current political situation and understood that more time was needed before a final decision could be reached. "They understand that there are currently political problems here," one official said. "They are being patient but have warned us not to take too long in making a decision." Kadima MK Shai Hermesh, a resident of Kibbutz Kfar Azza, called the charges "nonsense." He blamed the continuation of rocket fire that killed his neighbor Jimmy Kedoshim last month on Barak. "The reason there are still rocket attacks has nothing to do with Talansky," Hermesh said. "It is because of the cynical political maneuver of Ehud Barak to bring about unnecessary elections at such a complicated and dangerous time. In doing so he has paralyzed the defense establishment and prevented necessary action from being done." Meanwhile Wednesday, the IDF closed the Nahal Oz fuel depot after a Kassam rocket landed on the Palestinian side of the crossing, wounding a Palestinian worker. The depot is used almost daily to transfer industrial fuel, cooking gas and diesel into Gaza. Government spokesman David Baker said Wednesday's attack showed terrorist groups' "total disregard for the well-being of the Palestinian people." In April, two Israelis were killed when Islamic Jihad terrorists infiltrated the Israeli side of the crossing and opened fire. In light of the repeated attacks against the crossing, attorneys Robert Tolchin of New York and Nitsana Darshan-Leitner of the Israel-based human rights organization Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center threatened to file a lawsuit against the Dor Alon Energy Company unless it stopped supplying fuel to the Gaza Strip. The letter, the attorneys claimed, was sent on behalf of victims of recent Hamas Kassam rocket attacks in the western Negev. In it, they claimed that supplying fuel to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip is a direct violation of American law - which prohibits aiding, abetting and providing material support to terrorist organizations. In addition to criminal prosecution, the attorneys warned that Dor Alon would be facing civil actions in American courts that could potentially award the American and Israeli victims of the Hamas missile attacks millions of dollars in compensation.