Kadima MK Calls on Press, Politicians to Cease Talk of Barak Investigation

Police investigating whether defense minister violated campaign finance laws during 1999 election run.

Kadima MK Otniel Schneller is calling on the political and media establishment to cease and desist from discussing the "non-profit" campaign finance affair centering around Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

"I call on everyone across the political spectrum to stop its preoccupation with the Barak investigation," Schneller said on Tuesday.

"All day, the public hears, 'this one's being investigated, and this one's being probed.' It's impossible to run a country when the citizens' confidence in their leaders is being undermined and when [the leaders'] authority and room to maneuver is being limited." Schneller did add, however, that the police and the state prosecutors should continue the investigation.

The head of the police Investigations and Intelligence Department, Major General Yohanan Danino, will decide in the next few days whether to open a criminal investigation against Barak, in light of information received yesterday related to his 1999 election campaign.

Shmuel Levy, who was one of Barak's most important campaign managers in 1999, gave the police the information. Sources with knowledge of the information say it is incriminating, and is related to Barak's relationship to the various non-profit organizations that raised campaign funds for him.

Levy met with police investigators Monday and gave them the information. His lawyer, Nitza Dicovsky, was present at the meeting, but refused to comment on the material given to the police.

Police investigators made it clear they were aware of the political timing of Levy, who had previously kept silent in the investigations in the non-profits affair. In addition, Levy is fighting a battle to receive NIS 14 million he claims the Labor Party owes him for his work during the 1999 election campaign. A week ago he threatened the party with legal action if they did not pay up within a week.

Levy is considered close to Tal Silberstein, who is now Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's strategic adviser, and was one of the main suspects in the "Barak non-profit affair." The investigation of the affair dragged on for six years, and was closed in 2006 without any indictments filed.

State's witness

The police had offered Levy to be a state's witness against Barak, but he refused and preferred to remain silent under questioning.

The police investigation failed, among other reasons, when central figures in the case who had provided the State Comptroller with detailed information chose to remain silent when interrogated by the police.

The law requires that any testimony or documents collected by the State Comptroller's Office cannot be used as evidence in legal proceedings.

Zilberstein told Army Radio a month ago that "Ehud Barak knows very well that he is one of the last people who can speak about envelopes or cash, or about donors or money that was not repaid... I assume he knows what I'm talking about."

Barak called on Silberstein "to take everything he has and go straight to the police."