'I Bet on the Right Horse, the Country Is in My Hands'

More details of the so-called Talansky affair emerged yesterday at former prime minister Ehud Olmert's trial, including the fact that $30,000 was transferred from the account of American Jewish businessman Morris Talansky to that of Olmert's brother, Yossi.

Morris Talansky
Ouria Tadmor

Taking the witness stand at the Jerusalem District Court yesterday was David Friedland, a business partner of Talansky's and a key witness in the case of the cash-filled envelopes Olmert allegedly received from Talansky - one of three cases for which the former premier is currently standing trial.

During his testimony, it emerged that Talansky - whose 2008 deposition to the court ultimately forced Olmert to resign as prime minister - was questioned again by police four months ago during a visit to Israel.

Police showed Talansky a bank record of a $30,000 transfer from his account to that of Yossi Olmert. The transfer was apparently made a day after Olmert himself had met Talansky in New York, and police suspect it was at his behest.

Police said Talansky had responded that he does not remember the transfer, but had added, "perhaps Olmert transferred the money to me so I would pass it on ... Olmert is an honorable man, and I'm sure that if I loaned him money, he would return it."

Friedland told the court about the evening when prime minister Ariel Sharon had a stroke and Olmert took over. "It was a very sad moment. And then something very strange happened. He [Talansky] began to dance around and shout with joy. He began to shout, 'I bet on the right horse, the country is in my hands.' He was ecstatic, and it was very unpleasant."

Two days later, Friedland said, Talansky tried to explain his behavior to him. "He told me I had to understand that