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At the most, Olmert diverted some campaign donations for personal use. That is the common practice among politicians, and the line between campaign and personal expenses is often blurred.
But the critical criterion of bribe is the misuse of official position in return for payment. Olmert is not reported to have made any favors to Talansky at Israel’s expense.
It is ludicrous to speak of Olmert’s embezzlement of campaign donations after, say, Barak and Lieberman gave the Gaza offshore gas field to Arafat to pass it to British Gas in circumvention of Israel’s tender regulations.

Israel, Syria resumed negotiations through the good offices of Turkey. Syrians announced Israeli government accepted full withdrawal from the Golan Heights. Olmert’s office said essentially the same, but in weasel words: that it understands what should be done for peace with Syria.
Israel is represented by Olmert’s chief of staff, a decidedly unofficial position.
Just days ago, Turkey announced failure of the negotiations. The current spike of activity is probably an Israel’s attempt to neutralize Syria during the attack on Iran. Bound by the promising peace talks, Syria is not expected to unleash its hundreds of missiles on Israel as part of its mutual defense with Iran.
It remains unclear why do we need peace with Syria or expect normalization even if we have a peace treaty. Suppose Syria would promise to abandon Hamas and Hezbollah, sign a peace treaty with Israel, and then resume its support of terrorists. Israel won’t break the peace over this little issue, just as she now refrains from canceling peace treaty with Egypt over its support of Hamas. With Egypt and Jordan’s peace treaties, the US sort of guaranteed their relatively decent behavior. In the absence of such guarantor for Syria, peace is unlikely.

Lockheed Martin developed F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jet so expensive that even the US Air Force slashed its initial order to a token quantity. The fighter jet is just too expensive to risk it in combat. Though Israel estimates the price around $80 million, the current cost of F-35 is close to $250 million.
F-35 lacks a combat opponent. Russian MIG jets don’t come close, but cost many times less than F-35 JSF.
It is not inconceivable that Lockheed Martin bribed Israel’s Minister of Defense Barak to purchase the aircraft which the USAF refused.
Israel’s enemies Syrian and Iran, in the meanwhile, buy very good Russian MIG fighter jets and S300 antiaircraft missiles for a fraction of cost of the American weapons.

Thousands of Arabs gathered at Karni Crossing, ready to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza. IDF troops fired at the crowd, causing some casualties.
The policy of blockade has failed, it didn’t bring about Hamas downfall, but Israeli government clings to that useless strategy for lack of the political will to re-occupy Gaza and evict the terrorists.
Gazans rally behind Hamas and now seem ready to attempt breaking the border into Israel. Hamas successfully staged the broder breach with Egypt, and has no reason to refrain from a similar action regarding Israel.

with Gaza, laden with 4 tons of explosives, detonated on the Gazan side of the border. The Jewish state continues dutifully supplying Gaza with water, fuel, and electricity.

Polls show today 65-70% of Israel’s residents reject exchanging the Golan Heights for peace treaty with Syria. That’s about the entire Jewish population of Israel.

The bill, passed in the first reading, requires a prime minister under criminal investigation to resign. Such a law makes leftist attorney general of Israel a kingmaker, able to remove any prime minister at whim.

Shas is prepared to stay in the government despite the talks on Judea, Samaria, and the Golan Heights. In exchange, Olmert approved another 288 housing units for Shas voters in Betar Illit township. Other settlements see no new construction.

May 2008
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