Beyond the World news headlines
Olmert brings a bit of Beverly Hills to rocketed town
If anything projects a sense of “what me, worry?” in the Ehud Olmert “travelgate” corruption case, it’s this photo, distributed by the Government Press Office, of the Israeli prime minister paying a visit on Thursday to Sderot, a town hit repeatedly by Hamas rockets before and during the Gaza war he helped to orchestrate.
“The Beverly Hills Hotel and Bungalows” reads the logo on his jacket.
In a case revolving around Olmert’s foreign travels and stays in luxury hotels before he became prime minister, Israel’s attorney-general plans to summon the veteran politician and his attorneys next month to give him a chance to explain why he should not be indicted.
The Justice Ministry suspects that Olmert, during trips abroad as mayor of Jerusalem and as a cabinet minister from 2002 to 2006, double-billed for plane tickets and used the extra money for family vacations and upgrades. In a separate case, a U.S. businessman said he handed Olmert envelopes stuffed with cash and told a court about his penchant for top-class hotels and fine cigars.
Olmert has denied any wrongdoing and no criminal charges have been filed. He resigned as prime minister in September, saying he would fight the allegations. He remains caretaker prime minister until a new government is formed after Israel’s February 10 election in which he is not running.