PM places full trust in police probe

Olmert says he has faith investigation will be "reliable," several lawmakers give him their backing.

Olmert cabinet 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Olmert cabinet 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Sunday that he places his full trust in the police investigation into allegations of illicit campaign funding which has cast a pall over his political future. "I trust that the police and the State Attorney's Office will do reliable work," Olmert said during a meeting of Kadima ministers. "I have not found fault with the work of the police or the State Attorney's Office." The prime minister made his comments after a number of ministers expressed their disapproval with the police and the state attorney over the investigation into the affair. Joining Olmert in his defense of the authorities was Public Security Minister Avi Dichter, who said that such criticism was unwarranted. "There is no reason to criticize the police or the prosecution," Dichter said. "They are doing wonderful work in accordance with the law." Earlier, Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On had dismissed the state's claim that New York Jewish businessman Morris Talansky, the central figure in the illicit funding allegations against Olmert, was concerned that the prime minister would harass him after he gave his testimony. "I know [State Attorney] Moshe Lador and I have great appreciation for him on a professional level. However, I hear that he is requesting to collect an early testimony from Talansky because he has read that [Talansky] is worried Olmert will harass him," Bar-On told Army Radio. "We are speaking about the prime minister here, not a street criminal," exclaimed Bar-On. Meanwhile, several ministers and Kadima MKs voiced their support for Olmert. "We need to wait until the end of the inquiry," said Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Eli Yishai. "There are more burning issues. We have another fatality in Sderot, Kassam barrages. What is happening in Sderot is worrying and it obligates us to act in a way we haven't done before." Health Minister Ya'acov Ben Yizri also came to Olmert's defense. "Why is he different from any ordinary citizen in Israel?" he said. "They must prove the accusations." Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit also backed the prime minister. "He can and needs to make decisions even in the current situation," he said. "The prime minister gave his message to the public that was timely, correct and balanced out the rumor mill. The party must unite around him," continued Sheetrit. Nevertheless, Sheetrit added that "if an indictment is served, the right thing to do for Kadima is to hold primaries." Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz said that the prime minister had the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty, just like any other citizen. "He made himself clear after Independence Day," he added, stressing, "We must let the prime minister continue to conduct the state's affairs." Kadima MK Ruhama Avraham called for party unity. "This is a test for Kadima. We must stand behind the prime minister like a fortified wall." Meanwhile, Army Radio reported that Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni was remaining totally silent on the affair.