Olmert to decide whether to ask to advance Talansky cross-examination

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will meet with his lawyers on Tuesday morning to decide whether or not to ask the court to advance the cross-examination of prosecution witness Morris Talansky. Currently, at the lawyers' request, the date of the cross-examination is set for July 17. However, in light of the public and political damage to Olmert caused by Talansky's questioning in court by the prosecution last week, the prime minister is anxious to get across his side of the story as quickly as possible. Olmert said as much during a briefing with reporters at the White House on Wednesday. Asked whether he would address the Israeli public to tell his side of the story, Olmert replied, "Don't ask me about this now. I want to talk. I have answers and I will give them." But Olmert cannot divulge details of the police investigation while it is still going on. On Thursday, in response to demands from three watchdog organizations to suspend Olmert for 100 days, Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz wrote that "given the great public concern involved in this situation, an enormous effort is being made by everyone involved to speed up the investigation and the decision on this matter." The letter was addressed to lawyers representing the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel, the Movement for Quality Government and Ometz. As far as their request to suspend Olmert was concerned, Mazuz wrote that he believed "this matter is not a subject for a legal decision, at this stage at least, but one for the prime minister and the political echelon and the public to address."