Olmert vows not to resign despite bribery investigation

May 29th, 2008 - 12:41 pm ICT by admin  

Jerusalem, May 29 (Xinhua) Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said he will continue to function as prime minister and will not step down despite an ongoing bribery investigation against him. Olmert made the remarks Wednesday during a meeting with heads of southern Israeli communities and towns near the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, local daily Yedioth Ahronoth reported.

“There are those who believe that the launching of any investigation demands a resignation, but I don’t adhere to this notion and I will not step down,” Olmert was quoted as saying.

Earlier Wednesday, Olmert discussed with a senior member of his centrist Kadima Party over Jewish American businessman Morris Talansky’s deposition, according to the report.

Talansky told a preliminary hearing at Jerusalem District Court Tuesday that he gave Olmert envelopes containing cash amounting to $150,000 over a period of 15 years.

The testimony is part of an investigation into Olmert, who is suspected of illegally receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars from Talansky.

Olmert said it is inconceivable that a prime minister will be condemned based on a single testimony, adding that he will issue a statement in the next few days.

“I have plenty to say and I have kept quiet because of the investigation…I will not do anything to harm the party,” he added.

At a press conference in Jerusalem Wednesday afternoon, Israeli Defence Minister and Labor Party Chairman Ehud Barak called on Olmert to temporarily step aside over corruption allegations or resign.

“In the wake of the current situation and considering the challenges Israel faces, including Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria, Iran, the captured (Israeli) soldiers and the peace process, the prime minister cannot simultaneously lead the government and deal with his personal affairs,” Barak said.

Out of consideration for the good of Israel and the accepted norms, Olmert must detach himself from the day-to-day leadership of the Jewish state, he urged.

The defence minister warned if Olmert does not quit, Labor Party will move towards early elections.

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