American-Jewish businessman Morris Talansky told the Jerusalem District Court on Tuesday that he met Prime Minister Ehud Olmert 10 times between 2002 and 2005, while Olmert was industry, trade and labor minister, and on each occasion, gave him envelopes of cash. Talansky stressed, however, that he did not do it for personal gain.
"I had a very close relationship with him for over 16 years. The relationship was one of great admiration. I never expected anything from him and never received anything from him whatsoever," said Talansky, testifying as a witness for the prosecution in the investigation into allegations that Olmert accepted illegal payments from the US financier.
Describing himself as someone who raised money for Israel on behalf of various organizations, Talansky said he wanted to help Olmert's progress since his ideology regarding Israel and Zionism was in line with his own. "We raised at least 100,000 dollars," he said. "We were not wealthy donors, there was nothing personal about it," he said, adding that it was "for the good of Israel."
The New York financier said he met the prime minister for the first time on a family visit to Israel around the time of the First Gulf War, in 1991. Talansky said Olmert asked him then for financial assistance, in cash, for campaign funding for the Jerusalem mayoral elections.
Talansky said that when he asked Olmert why he wanted the money in cash, he replied that this was the customary method in Israel. Talansky said he agreed, wrote himself checks, cashed them and gave the money to Olmert. The businessman also mentioned that on another occasion, about 10 years ago, he organized an event and received envelopes of cash from various donors, which he in turn gave to Olmert.
I just get this strange feeling Olmert would be right at home as a Liberal in Quebec…I really should learn the Hebrew word for “Liebral”.