Case on Barak's consultants closed

The illegal political financing case brought against Ehud Barak's 1999 election consultants Tal Zilberstein and Gidi Sulimani has been closed, the Tel Aviv District Attorney's Office announced on Thursday. The two were suspected of breaching the Party Funding Law while working on the election campaign for the One Israel Party, a joint list of the Labor Party, the left-wing religious Meimad movement and David Levy's Gesher Party, headed by Ehud Barak. In October 2003, then attorney-general Elyakim Rubinstein announced that due to a lack of evidence he would close the case against Barak, MK Isaac Herzog and former MK Weizmann Shiri in which they were suspected of forming nonprofit organizations to illegally raise funds for the campaign. At the same time, Rubinstein recommended filing indictments against Zilberstein, election campaign manager for One Israel, and Sulimani, treasurer of the Negev Now non-profit advocacy organization. Following multiple hearings carried out in the State Attorney's Office and the Tel Aviv District Attorney's Office since 2003, Tel Aviv District Attorney Ruth David decided that it would be nearly impossible to prove that the two had broken the law based on the available evidence. The decision was backed by opinions given by State Attorney Eran Shendar and Deputy State Attorney Shuki Lamberger. Upon hearing of the decision, Barak said he welcomed the closing of the investigation against his former advisers. "I believed the entire time that they were innocent and that all their considerations and actions were clean," he declared. "I regret the long unnecessary suffering they endured for more than six years, and I'm happy with the result." Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.