Mazuz to probe Omri Sharon's powerbrokering

Attorney-general to probe allegations of massive violations of ethics in political appointments.

omri sharon 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
omri sharon 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz announced on Monday that he would look into allegations broadcasted over the past two days about massive political appointments of Likud central committee members arranged by former MK Omri Sharon to beef up the political strength of his father, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. According to Justice Ministry spokesman Ya'acov Galanti, Mazuz had not ordered police to investigate the matter at this point. The two-part investigative report based on Omri Sharon's diaries was reported on Sunday and Monday night by Channel 10 political analyst Raviv Drucker. According to Druker's report, Sharon was responsible for a massive number of political appointments, which he made via the bureaus of various Likud ministers, beginning with Ehud Olmert who was charge of several government offices. Sharon's diaries showed that in addition to arranging for political appointments, he also solved problems for central committee members, advanced projects and arranged jobs not only in the central government but also in local authorities and other institutions headed by Sharon loyalists. Omri was in close touch with Olmert aide Ovad Yehezkel and his father's political aide, Erez Halfon. In one entry after meeting with Yehezkel, he wrote, "head of a district office in the Israel Lands Authority [which Olmert headed] for Yigal Yosef. Shlomo Masharki wants to be a foreman. Ovad is at Bezeq today." Sharon also advanced Likud central committee members in various religious affairs positions. These positions, which are responsible for providing various religious services from mikvaot [ritual baths] to kosher supervision to marriage registration, offer salaries of between NIS 5,000 and NIS 11,000 a month. The report gave two examples of Likud Central Committee members who were appointed in 2004 to positions at religious councils. Yitzhak Alfasi was appointed to the religious council in Netivot and Dani Hazan was made a member of the religious council in Maalot also a member of the central committee. Monday's report also focused on appointments in the Mifal Hapayis state lottery, how Omri helped a political ally receive additional water allocations for his moshav and how he assisted Chabad in getting a prime location for their center at the Ben-Gurion International Airport. Omri Sharon quit the Knesset in December before he was given a prison sentence for raising funds illegally for his father's 1999 Likud chairmanship race. Politicians from across the political spectrum attacked Omri and accused Kadima of being tainted by corruption. The official response of Kadima officials was that the prime minister decided to form Kadima because of the "culture of impropriety in the Likud." But privately, Kadima officials admitted that the reports could not have come at a worse time for the party, which has been gradually slipping in the polls. Matthew Wagner contributed to this report