Olmert says all appointments were legal

Document alleges he used position to arrange benefits for Likud members.

jp.services2 (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
The Prime Minister's Office said Thursday morning that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was unaware of the existence of a document reportedly showing that he illegally arranged benefits for Likud members while he was a minister, Army Radio reported. In a response to a Wednesday evening report on Channel 10, Olmert said he had had to make various appointments in his official capacity and that he had always operated in accordance with the guidelines of the Attorney-General. According to the Channel 10 report, Olmert and his staff had prepared an itemized list of favors they had given to 115 members of the Likud Central Committee while Olmert was a member of the cabinet of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. The reporter who broke the story, Raviv Druker, said he obtained a copy of the list which included the names of each of the 115 committee members and the favor done. These favors allegedly included finding jobs, making appointments, supplying foreign workers including caretakers, and in one case, arranging for a law clerking assignment in the office of Olmert's private attorney, Eli Zohar. During the period in which these favors were granted, Olmert served as minister of industry and commerce, minister of employment, the minister in charge of the Israel Lands Authority, the minister in charge of the Israel Broadcasting Authority and various offices connected to these posts. Druker said Olmert had used his "empire" to do these favors. Druker charged that "Olmert knew about the list, was familiar with it and saw it with his own eyes, as did his aides." The reporter added that Olmert's aides had claimed the list was drawn up by a political adviser who was no longer working for the prime minister. But according to Druker, "there is no political adviser in the world who knows what is happening everywhere simultaneously, what happened to every request [by a Likud Central Committee member]. There was an entrenched system in Olmert's office, not involving just one or two people, but a system in which everything was recorded on computer, what was happening with each request in every place, and there were those who were put in charge in different parts of the country to make sure the requests were carried out and to mark it as done when the mission was accomplished." Druker said Olmert prepared the list because he was afraid the Likud Central Committee might not choose him for the party's slate of candidates for the next election - this was before Sharon decided to leave the Likud and establish Kadima - and wanted to prove black on white that he had helped them. Among the many examples that Druker mentioned from the list involved allegedly supplying Pini Sabah, a member of the Likud Central Committee, with 21 foreign workers. University of Haifa law professor Emmanuel Gross said on Channel 10 that Olmert could be charged with breach of faith and fraud or with election bribery in some of the cases included in the list.