ANALYSIS: Talansky testimony paints portrait of Olmert the hedonist
PM insisted on luxurious suites during overnight stays, first-class airline tickets funded by donors.
During the court appearance Tuesday of the key witness in the corruption investigation currently underway against Prime Minister Ehud Omert, those present during the deliberations were introduced to a portrait of Olmert that has remained, for the most part, under wraps: that of a hedonistic politician who insists on overnight stays in lavish suites and first-class airline service, a man whose expenses are subsidized by naive wealthy donors.
American businessman Morris Talansky, who gave his testimony in the case at the Jerusalem District Court Tuesday, recalled seeing Olmert's laundry and movie rental bills from his stay at the luxurious Ritz Hotel in Washington D.C. appear on his credit card statement.
In the absence of a cross-examination, it was difficult to point out contradictions, inconsistencies, or lies in his testimony. In contrast with numerous reports in media outlets in recent days - stories that portrayed Talansky as some crazed right-wing loon - the Long Island businessman came across as coherent, steady, and reasonable.
One must keep in mind that early testimony is given in the absence of an indictment. The word "bribe" was not mentioned during the deliberations, nor was there a hint that bribery is the issue at the heart of the affair. Talansky was persistent in stating that he has never conducted business in Israel, nor has he ever made demands of the prime minister in exchange for money.
As of right now, it remains unclear how relevant Talansky's lengthy testimony was to the case. Police investigators are focusing their attention primarily on 2005, not the 15 years during which Talansky and Olmert have known one another. Talansky's dramatic stories of the funding and assistance he provided Olmert during the latter's tenure as Jerusalem mayor will likely not be used as the basis for an indictment against the premier. That is, if there is an indictment in the future.