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Tag: bribe

Something Is Rotten in the State of Israel

Holyland Project

To say that Israeli politicians have never been morally bankrupt is a lie – even some of the notable heroes of Israel politics like Golda Meir made mistakes, all be them honest ones – but this so-called Holyland case, concocted of the childish, conniving and greedy behavior of middle-aged Israeli political and corporate power-hitters is sickening – that is the activity, not the investigation.

Ehud Olmert is proof that the higher you climb in Israeli society, if you don’t watch your step, the lower, harder and faster you are bound to fall. In a time and place where everything you do is not only scrutinized by the non-understanding eyes of the global community, but attacked by hate-filled finger-pointers, is it too much to seek some role-model grade behavior among our leaders. Is this unrealistic?

Sure, bribery and other scandals is nothing new among the politicians of the Jewish Country – I don’t think that I need to name names or incidents, and we the Israeli people have become somewhat hardened by it – or the unscrupulous behavior of a few greed-driven politicians is certainly drowned out by the voices of our boys on the front lines or the risk of terrorism. Right? Well it appears that the Holyland case may be something of a record-breaker.

The main player in the case is an unnamed individual who allegedly received 55 million NIS from Holyland developers, acting as the intermediary, passing the bribery funds to the necessary persons towards advancing the project and eventually gaining the permits to build the monstrous structure which now stains the not unstained holiness of the Jerusalem skyline.

Another key suspect is an unnamed accountant, who police believe did made payoffs in the form of legitimate donations, seeking to pressure him into turning over the facts in the case, to incriminate others. Police also think that in some cases, opponents of the project were persuaded to become supporters after they received free apartments.

Former Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupoliansky is accused of playing a vital role in the illegal activity, as head of the planning board. On Wednesday night speaking publicly with Channel 10 News, Lupoliansky shifted the responsibility to another former Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert. Lupoliansky explained that the mayor is the one calling the shots, not his deputy.

Ehud Olmert’s former Bureau Chief Shula Zaken will probably be detained and interrogated after returning to Israel from the United States. Her home was searched about a week ago, in her absence, when investigators seized several documents which tied her to the Holyland scandal.

On Wednesday, police detained businessman Danny Dankner and former head of the Israel Lands Administration Yaakov Efrati. Both of them were arrested as part of the National Fraud Unit’s Holyland corruption affair investigation, which apparently has shed light on further illegal corruption situations.

Danker, the former Chairman of Bank Hapoalim was interrogated by the National Fraud Unit on suspicion of committing criminal offenses like bribery and breach of trust. Efrati currently serves as Chairman of the Directorate of Israel Railways.

Meanwhile, police have completed their investigation of allegations against Mayor Zvi Bar of Ramat Gan and believe that there is sufficient evidence to press charges.
The mayor is suspected of corruption, money laundering, bribery and income tax violations.

Lieberman “If I’m indicted, I’ll quit all my political positions”

Avigdor LiebermanIs Avigdor Lieberman the big bad wolf, or really a wolf in sheep’s clothing? Following a number of allegations being made against him by the police for crimes that include money laundering, and accepting bribery, Israel’s Foreign Minister now appears to be ready test his popularity among his own party, Yisrael Beitenu, as well as the Likud led Netanyahu government. By threatening to leave political life, including heading his own party, his cabinet post, and even his Knesset seat, Lieberman hope to get his constituents to rally around him and in the end make him even stronger politically. This supposition became apparent when he stated yesterday that he believes that he will no only win out over the legal case that is built against him, but will even garnish more Knesset mandates (as many as 20) in the next election.

“I reviewed everything I said in the questioning sessions, and I am at peace with all of my actions,” he said. “If I had the opportunity to do things over again, I would do the same.”

The question a lot people are asking, what “things” is Lieberman talking about? Obviously, the F.M. still has a number of issues to work out concerning his activities, both business and political, which seem to be mounting up against him. Since being chosen for the second highest cabinet post behind the Prime Minister’s, Lieberman has not exactly won over most of the world as well as many people here in Israel. Only perhaps in Russia has he been able to find a bit of respect, as he sees eye to eye with people such as Russian P.M. Vladimir Putin. But in the rest of Europe, as well as the USA, his manner has been not well received by virtually everyone he has come in contact with.

Political circles in Jerusalem are already speculating as to who would replace Lieberman should he step down. Most likely, Deputy F.M. Danny Ayalon (a former ambassador to the USA) would temporarily replace him, which makes a lot people happy as Ayalon was very well liked during his tenure in Washington. As to who would replace him in his own party, right winged No. 2, Uzi Landau, would be a likely candidate; although his personal political views are a bit on the extreme side.

Kadima Party head Tzipi Livni doesn’t appear willing to join a Netanyahu led government, so her likelihood of again assuming the post is not likely at present. But in the game of Israeli politics, anything is possible, however.

But the police appear to be putting a case together against Lieberman, and are being backed up by former Police Chief Inspectors, and other high police officials. But Lieberman has managed to keep himself ahead of his accusers before, and could very well be successful again. It all depends on who really is running the police.

Hirschson Going to the Big House

The State has demanded at least 7 years incarceration for the former Finance Minister Avraham Hirschson. Prosecutor: Hirschson has violated public trust, leaving a feeling that public figures are living high on the taxpayer’s expense. Elroi Hirschson: It breaks my heart to see my father at the defendant’s table; imprisonment will actually be a death penalty.

Two conflicts in the courtroom: the need to hand down a deterring punishment – and the desire to show a little mercy. The son of former Finance Minister Avraham Hirschson, whom the court last week determined had misappropriated vast sums of money from the National Histadrut, said on Thursday morning at a plea hearing at the Tel Aviv Regional Courthouse that imprisonment of his father would in actuality be a death penalty.

EX Finance Minister Avraham HirchsonThe prosecutor, adv. Eli Schwartz, asked the court to deliver a long, deterring sentence, more severe than the ones handed down to his partners in the case. “They obtained their strength from him, he is first and foremost”, he stated. In this context – he repeated that the State had demanded a 7-year sentence for Ovadia Cohen, one of the accused in the case. In his opinion, Hirschson’s sentence should be more severe, should include a suspended sentence with strict fine, and his actions should be determined a disgrace.

Over the last several months, the Court has delivered verdicts of four years’ incarceration to Cohen, who was head of the Financial Dept. of the National Histadrut; 40 months of direct incarceration to Nili’s accountant, Amatsia Bonner. Fifteen months of incarceration were handed down to former Histadrut director, Yitzhak Ruso; the organization’s bookkeeper, Ronit Garti, was sentenced to public service. All four confessed and were convicted within the framework of a plea-bargaining.

The prosecutor also stated in his plea for sentencing that he does not downplay Hirschson’s good deeds over the years, or his activities for the benefit of Holocaust survivors – but at the same time, public representatives who use their positions as a means for personal financial gain should be severely punished.

Schwartz added that Hirschson has violated public trust, leaving a feeling that public representatives live high on the taxpayer’s expense, and added that Hirschson has lived his daily life while continually committing felonies over the years.

Son Elroi, who wept when the verdict was read, has asked for mercy for his father, who was only recently able to see his first grandchild;

“My father is the most important figure in my life. I have memories of my mother’s misery and suffering during the first years of my life. My father did everything for my mother; he took care of her for years and was both a father and mother to us. When people asked me what it was like to grow up without a mother, I would tell them that God had blessed me with such a warm and loving father that I don’t know where he gets his mental strength from. ”

“It breaks my heart to see my father at the defendant’s table. I am waiting for someone to wake me up from this nightmare,” added the son and stated that since the publication of the first article on his father’s deeds he hardly leaves the house: “The articles are being written one after the other and there seems to be a competition to see who can write a more condemning story. My father’s life has not been easy; he lost my mother to a fatal disease. I wouldn’t wish anyone to go through the suffering he has known.”

Hirschson has been charged with embezzling approximately 2 million shekels from the National Histadrut, and with taking bribes. The judge stated that the National Histadrut and Nili, under the former finance minister’s management had become a “casino” in which all senior representatives win money that is not theirs. Hirschson’s lawyer has already announced that he will appeal the conviction.

The former finance minister has also been charged with theft under management, fraud under aggravated circumstances, fraud and violation of corporation trust, laundering funds and falsification of corporation documents. Along with this, the Court has acquitted Hirschson on two accounts – financing the primaries and financing a conference at Ganei HaTa’aruha. The verdict will be served this Wednesday.

Translated by Lori Bul.

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