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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Olmert’

Elliot Abrams: Americans Support Israeli Strike on Iran; Iranians Don’t Fear Obama

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

Former advisor to George W. Bush Elliot Abrams stated in an interview that the American people would support an Israeli strike on Iran and criticized the Obama Administration for its handling of Iran’s nuclear threat, calling Obama’s approach “weak.”

“The President has made one big mistake . . . We have not made the Iranians afraid of a strike and I think they ought to be afraid of a strike – of an American strike in reality,” Abrams said in an interview with the Jerusalem Post.

Abrams said that this may be the reason why Iran has no desire to conclude an agreement with the Permanent Members of the Security Council and Germany (the so-called “P5+1”).

“They do not think it’s possible. They do not think it’s in the cards. I think that is one of the reasons diplomacy has failed – and it has failed,” he said.

As for an Israeli strike, Abrams said it would be “justifiable” given the danger Iran poses to Israel.

Abrams credited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for “helping along” the sanctions regime against Iran with his public statements.

“I think the Europeans, for example, would not have supported sanctions as much as they have, nor, I think, the Russians [or] the Chinese, had it not been for Israel’s drawing attention to the threat from Iran and drawing attention to the possibility that Israel would feel [it] must act against that threat,” Abrams said.

Abrams predicted that Obama would not be able to take punitive measures against Israel for such a strike, saying that “in an election year it’s particularly hard for a president …to take a position against Israel as the American people are taking a position in favor of Israel.”

Abrams also revealed that one of the reasons President Bush pursued the Annapolis Peace Conference and the renewal of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority with such vigor towards the end of his term was that then Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told the administration such efforts had a good chance of success.

Olmert Acquitted Of Major Charges

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

JERUSALEM – A panel of three Jerusalem regional court judges acquitted former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert on Tuesday of all corruption charges in the Rishon Tours and Moshe Talansky matters. The judges, though, found him guilty of breach of trust in the Investment Center affair, which took place during Olmert’s tenure as minister of industry, trade and labor nearly a decade ago.

The state prosecutor had charged Olmert with fraud, breach of trust, falsifying corporate records, double billing, tax evasion and accepting bribes in the Rishon Tours and Talansky affairs nearly four years ago. During the course of the long legal battle, Talansky, a Long Island financier who co-founded the New Jerusalem Fund with Olmert, alleged in court that Olmert requested cash for various purposes. If the court had rendered a guilty verdict on the fraud charges, each charge would have carried a minimum jail term of three years. The breach of trust guilty verdict does not carry an automatic jail sentence, as the penalty is determined by judicial discretion.

Despite Olmert’s acquittals, the judges declared that the former prime minister’s former bureau chief, Shula Zaken, was guilty of two counts of fraud and breach of trust in the Rishon Tours case. Her conviction, which will almost certainly be challenged by her legal team, carries a minimum prison term of three years.

A cadre of legal experts and media commentators expressed surprise at the verdict on Olmert, especially in the Rishon Tours double-billing case whereby several witnesses maintained that both Olmert and Zaken were aware of double billing major Jewish organizations – and even orchestrated the action.

After the verdicts were handed down, the legal experts publicly questioned how Zaken, who was in constant daily contact with Olmert throughout most of his political career and updated him on all matters, could be found guilty while Olmert could emerge virtually unscathed.

Other legal pundits are arguing that Zaken is taking the fall for Olmert, despite the fact that she was allegedly offered immunity from prosecution had she turned state’s witness against her former boss. MK Dalia Itzik, a former political ally of Olmert’s during his tenure as prime minister and head of the Kadima Party, blasted State Attorney Moshe Lador. “This is one of the most severe legal earthquakes to ever hit Israel. It’s difficult to understand how supposedly rock-solid cases, which forced Olmert from office, collapsed. It’s absurd,” she said.

While expressing dismay with Zaken’s conviction, Olmert was ecstatic with his not guilty verdict on the corruption charges. “I knew I would be vindicated. There was no corruption or envelopes with money,” he told a horde of Israeli and foreign reporters at the Jerusalem courthouse. “This won’t be the last time you will be hearing from me.”

Olmert and Zaken’s legal battles, however, are far from over. Tuesday’s legal drama comes at the same time that Olmert, Zaken and former Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski are being accused by the state prosecution’s main witness, a controversial businessman with a checkered reputation, as being central players in the so-called Holyland Affair. The Holyland trial is expected to last several months, with a verdict not expected until either later this year or early next year.

Olmert Acquitted on Most Charges, Convicted on Breach of Trust

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has won a surprise victory on Tuesday morning, as a panel of three district court judges acquitted him of most of the counts against him, in four cases that were associated with his name. He was only convicted of breach of trust in the Investment Center affair.

This makes Olmert the first Israeli Prime Minister ever to be convicted of a criminal offense.

Sentencing will take place on September 5.

In the Rishon Tours affair Olmert and his former chief of staff Shula Zaken were accused of instituting a fraud scheme that allowed him to receive extra funding for official trips abroad, and apply the surplus funds to private family trips. Olmert was acquitted of the charge in this case, but Zaken has been convicted of fraud and of breach of trust.

“The evidence does not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was aware of the collection of excess funds and their use,” the judges ruled. “His overt behavior did not appear consistent with the method of deliberate fraud that is alleged in the indictment. The intent to finance private trips through surplus funds was not proven.”

The second indictment dealt with Talansky and the Investment Center affairs, which are, in effect, one and the same. Olmert was accused of breach of trust, for having received hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, sometimes in envelopes, from Morris Talansky, and in doing so deviated from the rules of etiquette as government minister. The cash was hidden in a safe belonging to attorney Uri Messer, then Olmert’s partner and close friend.

At the same time, the prosecution alleges that Olmert had a conflict of interests when he advocated for for Talansky’s business, and that when he was Minister of Industry he favored Messer’s clients, also in a serious conflict of interests.

In addition, Olmert was acquitted of defrauding and deceiving the State Comptroller regarding the value of his pen collection and money he received from businessman Joe Elmaliach.

Russia to Possess Historic Building in Heart of Jerusalem

Monday, June 25th, 2012

The transfer of one of Jerusalem’s most prime pieces of real estate to Russia will be finalized when the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) vacates its offices, following the completion of talks between Israel and Russia on Sunday.

In 2008, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert presented the Sergei building and its 9-acre courtyard with gardens and fishponds in the Russian Compound as a gift to the Russian government.  He made the gesture during a visit to Moscow to persuade President Dimitry Medvedev not to sell arms to Syria and to back sanctions against Iran.  The decision to transfer the property was made by the prime minister, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Finance Minister Roni Bar-On and Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann.

Last year, the Agriculture Ministry and the Society for Preservation of Israel Heritage Sites evacuated their offices in the compound.  SPNI issued a request to continue working in the offices, but was denied by the Russian government.

Israel gained control of approximately 90 percent of the Russian compound in 1964, paying the Russian government $3.5 million in citrus fruits for the property due to lack of hard currency – hence the dubbing of the agreement the “Orange Deal”.

The Sergei building, not included in the sale, was completed in 1890, and served as a hotel for Russian aristocrats, royalty, and dignitaries on pilgrimage to Jerusalem. It was named for brother of Tzar Alexander III, Grand Duke Sergei, then President of the Imperial Russian Orthodox Palestine Society.   The property had been purchased by Tzar Alexander II in 1860 from the Ottoman Empire.

When the plan to give possession of the property to Russia was announced in 2008, opponents protested the giving over of Jerusalem heritage sites to foreign entities, and warned that Russia was not a strong enough ally to trust with the property.  Then-candidate for Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat also disapproved of the plan, calling it a “dangerous precedent, giving property in the heart of Jerusalem to foreign interests.”

Russia has vowed to keep the area open to the public, and says it will restore the yard and buildings for use by Russian pilgrims visiting Jerusalem today.

The SPNI announcement comes just a day before Russian Premier Vladimir Putin’s Monday arrivalin Israel on an official state visit.  The leader is expected to meet with top Israeli officials to discuss Iran’s nuclear progress.  He will also dedicate a monument in Netanya to the valor of the Red Army in World War II.  The large stone monument consisting of a pair of white wings, an unprecedented joint-state venturebetween Israel and Russia, will also honor the more than half a million Jewish Red Army soldiers who fought in the war.

Former PM Olmert: Divide Jerusalem For Peace

Monday, May 21st, 2012

Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Sunday urged Israeli leaders to surrender large swaths of Jerusalem to the Palestinian Authority if they want peace.

In honor of the 45th annual Jerusalem Day, Prime Minister Olmert – who served as Jerusalem’s Mayor from 1993 to 2003 – told the Maariv daily newspaper that  Jerusalem was never truly united, and while he called that a “tragedy”, he also said it will mean “inevitable political concessions”.

The Israel Defense Forces liberated eastern Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount and the Tomb of the Prophet Samuel from Jordan in the 1967 Six Day War, as well as the biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria, including heritage sites the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem.

In his interview with Maariv, Olmert highlighted the division and separation between Jewish and Arab neighborhoods, and lamented that not enough had been done to homogenize the city.

Regarding Arab neighborhoods, Olmert said “apart from heartache we get nothing from them,” saying that peace will require Arab neighborhoods to be separated and given to a Palestinian state.

He also said that the Old City and the Temple Mount should be up for discussion in final peace talks.

Olmert lamented the peace deal he could “touch” in 2007 and 2008, and said that if he had been prime minister for a few more months, he believes an agreement on a Palestinian state would have been completed.

Israel’s current prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, had very different things to say about Jerusalem on this year’s Jerusalem Day.

“Israel without Jerusalem is like a body without a heart. And our heart will never be divided again,” he said.

He warned that dividing Jerusalem would lead to a war pitting Jews against Muslims in the city, and boasted that Israeli control of holy sites provided the highest level of accessibility and religious freedom to all citizens.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat chastised Olmert, calling the idea of dividing Jerusalem “a bigger mistake”.

“He lost his faith in Jerusalem when he was mayor,” Barkat said, accusing him of wanting “to run from conflicts in Jerusalem and give in to them, instead of coping with them and directing them.”

Bibi Will Fail, Like Other PMs Who Evicted Jews: Begin, Sharon, Olmert

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

I had just wrapped up a pleasant visit with my good friend Jack from the US. As he pulled away, the beeper beeped, with something of a blood-chilling message: “Police have broken into Machpelah House and are expelling its residents.”

Over the past few days, a number of important politicians had visited Machpelah House, including Ministers Yuli Edelstein, Yisrael Katz, Moshe Kachlon, Deputy Minister Gila Gamliel, and MKs Uri Ariel and Tzippy Hotoveli. And there may be others that I’ve forgotten.

When Barak insisted on expelling the families from the building, others, including Gideon Sa’ar and Limur Livnat, protested publicly.

Last night, as we were conducting a small dedication in Machpelah House, Bibi was meeting with a group of ministers to discuss the “crisis.” Unofficial results consisted of “no decision yet” and “no change in status,” at least until of end of April.

So when the storm-troopers crashed the party early Wednesday afternoon, very few people were home. Most were at their “other homes,” getting ready for Passover. It only took a few minutes for the hundreds of police, border police, soldiers and riot squad to round up a few women and kids, and see them to the door. Quiet, peaceful, almost pastoral. Almost. But not quite. Watching a group of about twenty Border-police women surrounding and escorting a young woman with her two very small children isn’t really tranquility-in-action. Actually, it’s rather sickening.

So what happened? Yesterday Bibi said that we’d have some time to prove our case. And today?

It seems that our Prime Minister, as we get close to the holiday celebrating our exodus from Egypt, decided to dress up as the Pharaoh and to assist with another exodus. This one from Hebron. Of course, his original great great granddaddy tried to keep us in Egypt. His great great grandson, the new version of the Pharaoh, is doing the opposite, which is, expelling us – from our homes, our property, our land.

Good ol’ Bibi is the same Prime Minister whose actions took Hebron into Hell. The decision to split the city, leaving most of Hebron with Arafat, including the hills surrounding the Jewish community, led to massive gunfire directed at us for two and a half years. Leading to the killing of Shalhevet Pass, and to the injuring of others, physically and otherwise. Bibi promised us we’d be safe. He lied.

In the government decision of January, 1997, Bibi promised to assist Hebron, building and developing its Jewish community. He lied.

A day ago, Bibi promised that Machpelah House residents would have a chance to prove that they really own the building. He lied.

A true Pharaoh at heart.

Bibi’s coalition is fairly right-wing. The people in his cabinet certainly lean right. Likud’s MKs, for the most part, certainly lean right. His coalition partners certainly lean right.

Except for one: Ehud Barak. Barak is, for all intents and purposes, partyless. He left Labor, and doesn’t have a spot in the polls. He’s a nothing, a political nobody. Yet he is Defense Minister of the State of Israel, and as such, wields tremendous authority. So much so that his lone opinion outweighs that of Netanyahu’s party, MKs, Ministers and coalition. So if Ehud says…, Bibi does.

What a mighty, powerful Pharaoh!

It’s clear that this is not an isolated incident. It fits, hand–in-hand, with Barak’s plans to expel Jews from Migron, Beit El, and who knows where else. This is just the beginning of the rolling of the snowball, whose true goal is the deletion of all Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria.

Other Prime Ministers have expelled Jews from their homes: Menachem Begin, Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert. What happened to them?

That’s where Pharaoh Bibi is headed. In the same direction. He will fizzle and fail. And Machpelah House, as ensconced in the name (Machpelah means ‘double’), will double, triple and quadruple itself, many times over.

Guaranteed!

Olmert’s ‘Peace Partner’ Cannot Deliver and Has No Mandate

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert insisted this week that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is a “partner for peace.” “No one can say to me after hundreds of hours of discussing peace with Abu Mazen [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] that he is not a partner because he doesn’t want peace,” Olmert said in a speech at J Street’s annual conference. “He wants peace with Israel and he accepts the existence of Israel as Israel declares itself to be.”

But if Abbas were really a “partner for peace,” how come he did not accept the generous offer he received from the Olmert government in 2008?

At that time, Olmert presented Abbas with a map that would have given the Palestinians control over most of the West Bank, and that also included the transfer of 327 square kilometers of territory from inside Israel to the Palestinians. In return, Israel would have annexed 6.3% of the West Bank to Israel.

Olmert’s peace plan would have involved the evacuation of dozens of settlements and the creation of a safe passage route connecting the West Bank to the Gaza Strip via a highway. But as Abbas never responded to Olmert’s plan, the negotiations between the two sides ended.

Olmert’s plan was the most generous offer the Palestinians had ever received from an Israeli prime minister. Yet, Abbas the “peace partner,” chose to ignore Olmert’s plan even though it had included the division of Jerusalem into two cities.

The question today, however, is not whether or not Abbas is a peace partner. Rather, what Olmert needs to ask himself is whether the Palestinian president can deliver or not. The answer is very simple and clear – even if Abbas wanted to deliver a peace deal, he cannot. Abbas’ term in office expired in January 2009, but, because the US Administration wanted him to stay in power, he remained. The result is that he is seen by many Palestinians as an illegitimate leader. No Palestinian leader has a mandate to make any concessions to Israel in return for peace.

It is also not clear how Abbas is supposed to implement any peace agreement with Israel when he can not even visit the Gaza Strip, which Hamas ordered him to leave in 2007.

Abbas has no direct control over the more than 1.4 million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip. He also does not enjoy the backing of millions of Palestinian refugees living in Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. Most of these refugees are strongly opposed to any compromise that does not secure the “right of return” to their former villages and homes inside Israel.

Further, It is not even clear today whether Abbas enjoys the full backing of his own Fatah faction. A growing number of disgruntled Fatah officials are beginning to challenge Abbas’s policies, with some going as far as calling on him to step down and pave the way for some new, emerging, and younger leaders.

Abbas’s actions and words in the past few years show that he is a peace partner not for Israel, but for Hamas. Instead of returning to the negotiating table to talk with Israel, he has been talking with Hamas, which seeks the destruction of Israel, about ways of achieving “reconciliation” and forming a Palestinian unity government.

Just as Arafat dismissed the generous offer he received from former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak during the failed Camp David summit in 2000, Abbas rejected Olmert’s plan because it did not satisfy all of the Palestinian leader’s demands. Perhaps one of the biggest problems is the precedent set in Israel’s negotiations with us in Egypt over the Camp David Accords: Egypt got 100% of what it asked for from Israel. How, after that, can any Arab leader ever settle for anything less?

 

Originally published by Gatestone Institute http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org

Embarrassed by J Street’s Olmert Connection, B’Tselem Lies, Gets Caught… By Palestinians

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

Ali Abunimah, co-founder of The Electronic Intifada, does not forgive betrayal easily, especially when it comes from left-wing Israeli and Jewish-American organizations. Which is why he is such a wonderful source of information on groups who have made it their life’s mission to point fingers at the behavior of others. In this case – B’Tselem.

First, for readers who need it, the Wiki: B’Tselem (Hebrew for “in the image of,” as in Genesis 1:27) is an Israeli, non-governmental organization that calls itself “The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories.” Founded in 1989, its official goals are “to document and educate the Israeli public and policymakers about human rights violations in the Occupied Territories, combat the phenomenon of denial prevalent among the Israeli public, and help create a human rights culture in Israel.”

And while on its face (disregarding the “occupation” jargon) it’s not necessarily such a bad thing to have someone alert the public on illegalities anywhere, NGO Monitor has suggested that B’Tselem, from its inception, has been focusing only on the things Jews do, to the point of willfully subverting the truth: “B’Tselem has faced serious criticism for its misrepresentations of international law, inaccurate research, and skewed statistics (including casualty lists). Relies on statistics and reports of other NGOs, despite the political agendas and credibility problems of these other groups.” The same website offers a long list of such misrepresentations of the truth.

But that kind of dishonesty never bothered Ali Abunimah, whose website engages daily in exactly those kinds of misrepresentations. He lost it, however, when it came to the upcoming J Street Conference, which will feature as keynote speaker the man who didn’t meet a law he didn’t find as way to subvert, disgraced former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

In the Electronic Intifada narrative, Olmert is “responsible for extensive war crimes including during Israel’s 2006 war on Lebanon and its 2008-2009 attack on the Gaza Strip. Thousands of people were killed in the occupied Palestinian territories and Lebanon by Israeli forces during Olmert’s term of office.”

And so, Ali Abunimah demands: “B’Tselem USA should withdraw its sponsorship of this politically biased conference whose goal is to whitewash Israeli war crimes, if it is to maintain any credibility as a human rights organization.”

Yes, yes, metaphors involving kettles and frying pans do come to mind, but wait, it gets even better.

On March 19, the blog “I’m an alien, I’m a legal alien” run by Uri Horesh, published an email from Jessica Montell, Executive Director of B’Tselem, who wrote him:

In fact, B’Tselem is not a sponsor of the J Street conference. This was a mistake in the e-mail and will be corrected later today. We are a participating organization, and are very glad to be part of a long list of Israeli and American groups participating in J Street and dedicated to pursuing a different and better reality for Palestinians and Israelis alike… Aside from organizing this panel, B’Tselem was not involved with any other aspects of the conference, including the decision to feature former PM Olmert.”

And, indeed, when you check the B’Tselem website, they’ve revised their own history with the same dedication they’ve been revising everybody else’s, and their now scrubbed announcement reads: “B’Tselem USA is a participating organization in the J St Conference.”

But Ali Abunimah has the goods, because he, apparently, received the original email from Rachel Sussman, Associate Director of B’Tselem USA:

B’Tselem USA is proud to be a sponsor of J Street’s third annual conference, Making History, in Washington later this month. J Street is the political home for pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans. The conference will feature former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Israeli writer Amos Oz, a member of B’Tselem’s Public Council, journalist Peter Beinart, a member of B’Tselem USA’s Advisory Council and Anat Hoffman, the Executive Director of the Israel Religious Action Center.

Not only did they not see anything wrong in having Olmert speak at the conference, heck, they were delighted to have him there, ensconced among the members of their own advisory council.

Now poor Jessica Montell received, on March 19, an outraged email from Raji Sourani, Director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights: “I am writing to express my extreme shock and disappointment regarding B’Tselem’s announcement as a ‘proud sponsor’ of an event in the US with Ehud Olmert.”

On March 20, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights issued the demand: “We call upon B’Tselem to withdraw from this event, and to use this opportunity to highlight the need for accountability, justice, and the enforcement of the rule of law.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/yoris-daily-news-clips/embarrassed-by-j-streets-olmert-connection-btselem-lies-gets-caught-by-palestinians/2012/03/22/

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