Friday, May 9, 2008

OLMERT ADMITS TAKING CASH FROM U.S. BUSINESSMAN

REUTERS - Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert admitted on taking cash from a U.S. businessman but resisted calls to resign over a police investigation into alleged hefty bribes over almost a decade. As Israelis enjoyed festivities marking Independence Day and the 60th anniversary of the founding of their state, police lifted a week-old media gag order and announced details of accusations that sparked opposition calls for Olmert to quit. He said he would resign only if he were formally indicted. . .

Olmert, in a late-night televised address to the nation, said: "I look each and every one of you in the eye and say, 'I never took bribes. I never took a penny for myself'." His allies say there is a right-wing campaign to wreck the peace process, but it was unclear if his fragile coalition would rally behind a man who last year said he was "indestructible".. . . Olmert, who was questioned by police for an hour last Friday, has weathered a string of investigations since he succeeded Ariel Sharon as prime minister in 2006. Sharon's son is in jail for campaign funding misdeeds on his father's behalf.

On Thursday, Olmert said all the cash he received -- put at hundreds of thousands of dollars by one judicial source -- was legitimate support from New York financier Morris Talansky to fund various election campaigns over nearly a decade from 1993.

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