Barak Calls for Olmert to Quit

Threatens to leave gov't coalition; US businessman says he gave PM wads of cash
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted May 28, 2008 6:41 AM CDT
In this photo released by the Government Press Office, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, left, is seen during a visit to the Israeli navy in the northern port city of Haifa, Tuesday, May 27, 2008.   (AP Photo/GPO, Moshe Milner, HO)
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(Newser) – Israel's defense minister told Ehud Olmert to take a leave of absence or step down while he battles corruption charges, reports the BBC, and threatened to leave the country's governing coalition if he refused. "The prime minister needs to disconnect himself from the day-to-day management of the government," said Ehud Barak. A US businessman testified yesterday that he gave $150,000 in contributions to Olmert in the last 15 years, the Guardian reports.

Morris Talansky said some of the money went to luxuries such as expensive hotels, and that he had been “disturbed” Olmert wanted cash. Talansky said the money was simply a contribution to Olmert, and that he never gained from any favors. He said he believed Olmert could reach out to the US Jewish community. "That's why I overlooked a lot of things," Talansky said. "Maybe I shouldn't have."