Olmert - Tomer Appelbaum
Olmert, in red, in a Jerusalem courthouse last week. Photo by Tomer Appelbaum
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NEW YORK - Witness testimony that is expected to be given in New York during the trial of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will be off limits to the media and the public, according to prosecutors.

The request to deny public access to the hearings was made by Israeli officials, according to legal officials in the New York Attorney General's office.

Those who will be called to the witness stand, among them representatives and senior heads of Jewish organizations in New York, are linked to the Rishon Tours double billing affair. These organizations are alleged to have funded Olmert's trips to the United States throughout his political career.

Among those expected to testify is Kenneth Bialkin, a prominent attorney and Jewish activist who once served as president of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Bialkin, who is currently chairman of the board of the America-Israel Friendship League, will likely be asked about the role which the organization played in funding Olmert's junkets.

Rachel Mor, Olmert's former aide who was responsible for organizing his trips abroad before she was replaced by Rachel Risby-Raz, is also expected to testify in New York.

In addition, representatives of Israel Bonds, another organization that is alleged to have paid for Olmert's trips, will also be called to testify. The former premier will be present during the proceedings, which are scheduled to begin on Monday.