PM skips session on ramifications of comptroller's reports

The deteriorating relationship between State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert suffered another blow Monday, when the prime minister boycotted a Knesset committee meeting to discuss the ramifications of several important state comptroller reports. Lindenstrauss joined several MKs on the State Control Committee in criticizing the prime minister and accused Olmert of trying to detract attention from recent damaging reports by creating personal drama around the report's findings. "There could not be any argument about the professionalism of the reports or the accuracy of our findings, so instead personal arguments were made, and a personal attack me was launched," said Lindenstrauss. "The prime minister thinks I am out to get him, this is categorically untrue... I harbor no bad feelings in my heart towards the prime minister, although he has come out with harmful and insulting declarations against me," the comptroller continued. Last week, the prime minister asked Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz to probe Lindenstrauss for singling Olmert out in a series of investigations and for allegedly leaking the nature of the probes to the media. Among the investigations Olmert complained about was a report by Lindenstrauss's office about possible illegal activity by Olmert during the privatization of Bank Leumi. Mazuz rejected Olmert's request, calling it "a baseless allegation" and said that Lindenstrauss was "doing his job." Lindenstrauss has also investigated Olmert's purchase of his Jerusalem home for less than its market price from an associate. Several media accounts have suggested that Olmert, while serving as Jerusalem mayor and industry, trade, and labor minister, granted the contracter special building permits. Lindenstrauss denied that he provided information on either of those reports to the media. The state comptroller's office provides interim reports of all its investigations to government offices, and any of those offices, said Lindenstrauss, could have leaked the report.