Police are considering the possibility of granting attorney Uri Messer the status of state witness in a corruption investigation being carried out against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Messer, who is considered a close associate of Olmert, is suspected of accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars from American businessman Morris Talansky to pass on to Olmert and his former bureau chief Shula Zaken.
Police said that Messer has been cooperative in the investigation so far, and has apparently given incriminating evidence against the prime minister. Officials says Messer's role in the alleged affair was small in comparison to the suspicions against Olmert and Zaken.
Olmert admitted on Thursday that he accepted campaign donations from Talansky, but denied that they were bribes and said he would only resign if he were indicted. In a terse, late-night televised statement to journalists at his residence in Jerusalem, Olmert said that all funds received were transferred to Messer. "I never took bribes, I never took a penny for myself," Olmert said, adding that he had "full confidence that Messer handled the money professionally and according to the law."
Ha’aretz carries more here. Apparently, Olmert went on television last night and claimed he would not fight to stay in office if he is charged criminally – but he took pains to point out that Israeli law does not require him to resign his office while under charges. The real issue then becomes how one makes Olmert keep his word?