Israel to Question Billionaire in Probe

A criminal state will beget criminals. A team of Israeli police will be leaving for Australia next week to question a prominent billionaire on allegations that Ehud Olmert tried to help him in a bank sale before becoming Prime Minister.

Israel to Question Billionaire in Probe
Friday April 27, 2007 7:16 AM
Associated Press Writer

JERUSALEM (AP) – A team of Israeli police will leave for Australia next week to question a prominent billionaire about suspicions that Ehud Olmert tried to help him in a bank sale before becoming prime minister, a police spokesman said Thursday.

The case is one of several corruption investigation that have dogged Olmert’s year in office. On Wednesday, Israel’s government watchdog agency recommended opening a criminal investigation against him in a separate influence peddling case.

Officers from the police fraud squad will question Frank Lowy in Australia, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told The Associated Press. Lowy, a real estate developer and friend of Olmert’s, was No. 172 on Forbes magazine’s latest ranking of billionaires.

The investigation concerns Olmert’s role as finance minister in the government’s 2005 sale of a controlling interest in Bank Leumi, one of the country’s largest financial institutions.

Israel’s choice: “Jewish only” or democratic?

Sonja Karkar

The time will have to come for Israel to declare its hand: is it “a state of the Jewish people throughout the world” as it defines itself, or a state of all its citizens, both Jewish and non-Jewish? So far Israel has managed to convince the Western world that it is the only democracy in the region, but neglects to add that this democracy works only for its Jewish citizens. This is the conundrum: Israel has been unable to reconcile what it says it is, with want it wants to be — democratic and exclusively Jewish.

All of Israel’s one million plus Palestinian residents — the survivors and descendants of the 1948 Zionist ethnic cleansing of Palestine — have long felt discriminated against, despite Israel paying lip-service to their democratic rights. They also felt on the sidelines of what was being played out in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, that is until Azmi Bishara, the outspoken political leader of the National Democratic Assembly (NDA) or Balad in Israel and a Knesset member, began campaigning for the collective rights of Palestinians. His vision is not just for change inside Israel, but involves an all-inclusive civil rights struggle against political Zionism — the racist and colonialist policies that have dispossessed, marginalised and oppressed all Palestinians for almost 60 years. This is what Israel is at pains to put down by any means. It cannot afford to have someone like Azmi Bishara rallying people to his way of thinking. Now, after many attempts to muzzle him, Israel has finally succeeded in getting him to resign from the Knesset and to stay out of the country.

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Palestinians urge Israel to seize “historic opportunity” for peace

Any chance of that happening anytime soon? We certainly doubt so! The occupation is still going on, the Apartheid Wall is still up and Palestinians are suffering.

UNITED NATIONS: The Palestinians urged Israel on Wednesday to seize a “historic opportunity” to negotiate peace without preconditions but Israel refused, accusing the Palestinian government of flaunting basic principles for peace and waging a “campaign of terror.”

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian U.N. observer, told the U.N. Security Council that the formation of a Palestinian government of national unity and the relaunch of the Arab Peace Initiative adopted at an Arab summit in 2002 offered “a window of opportunity” to move forward and revive the peace process.

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Israel celebrates 59th independence day

Israel celebrates the 59th anniversary of its illegal occupation of historic Palestine and the 59th anniversary of an-Nakba. Figures.

JERUSALEM: Israel celebrated its 59th independence day yesterday with a mix of malaise and festivity, with millions enjoying barbecues in backyards and parks while lamenting rising corruption and the depressing after-effects of the summer’s inconclusive war in Lebanon.

“The country is in a good state but in a bad mood,” Vice Premier Shimon Peres told The Associated Press during independence day celebrations at Jerusalem’s presidential residence, which is currently vacant because the president, Moshe Katsav, suspended himself amid charges of rape, sexual assault and fraud. US President George W Bush called Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to wish him well on independence day, Olmert’s office said in a statement. The two leaders also talked about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the statement said, without providing details.

Avaaz: Iraq is Dying

Dear friends,

The nightmare in Iraq worsens daily. It’s make-or-break time — but next Thursday in Egypt, we could start to turn the tide. Because on May 3rd – for the first time ever – top US and Iraqi leaders will meet with Iran and Syria plus international powers. They can agree on negotiations to end the war — or escalate their bloody conflict.

Iraq: It Ends on May 3rd Avaaz is launching a major advertising and text-message campaign inside Iraq this week to bring Iraqi voices to this decisive meeting. As citizens around the world, let’s join our voices with theirs to end this war — sign the petition calling for negotiations and a withdrawal of US troops here:

To make sure we’re heard, we’ll hand-deliver our petition to the leaders’ conference in Sharm El-Sheikh on May 3rd, and project Iraqi text-messages on to a huge wall near the US Capitol building in Washington.

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