New Suspicions Arise over Israeli PM

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It could soon be the end of the political road for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Investigators found new information Friday that led to an additional investigation of the Israeli prime minister. This is the third time police have questioned him on suspicions that he illegally took money from supporters and the State.

Now, the investigation goes beyond his questionable dealings with American businessman Morris Talansky and gets into his tenure as mayor of Jerusalem and as minister of industry and trade.

"While serving as mayor of Jerusalem and as minister of industry and trade, (Olmert) is suspected of seeking funding for flights abroad in his official capacity from several sources at the same time ... including the State," police and the Justice Ministry said in a joint statement.

"The prime minister was asked to give his account about suspicions of serious fraud and other offences," the statement said regarding the two-hour interrogation of Olmert.

Police said they were now investigating whether Olmert received duplicate funding for trips abroad from different public bodies.

According to The Jerusalem Post, police suspect that the "considerable sums" that remained after the flight was paid for "were transferred by Olmert to a special fund (his) travel agency administered for him.

According to suspicions, Olmert used the extra money to pay for his family's private trips, the statement said.

Olmert said he did nothing wrong in his dealings but has promised to step down if indicted.

Olmert has survived a number of police investigations and charges that he mismanaged the second Lebanon war two years ago.

But some analysts say he won't escape the public furor over the latest revelations.

The newspaper Ha'aretz quotes police sources who say that if he weren't prime minister, Olmert would have been arrested by now.

A new poll published today shows 79 percent of Olmert's fellow Kadima party members want him to resign.

Olmert served as mayor of Jerusalem for 10 years until 2003. Later he served as trade minister under Ariel Sharon before succeeding Sharon as prime minister in early 2006.

Source: Ha'aretz, The Jerusalem Post, Reuters

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