Knesset Panel to Probe PM Graft Suspicions in Hearing Next Week

Knesset State Control Committee Chairman says he will exercise power to summon Olmert to testify.

The Knesset State Control Committee will hold a special session over suspicions Prime Minister Ehud Olmert illicitly arranged investment opportunities for friends while in a previous cabinet post.

The parliamentary panel chairman, MK Zevulun Orlev (National Religious Party-National Union), on Wednesday announced he would convene the committee next week and would exercise his power to summon Olmert to the hearing.

Orlev said the report, made public by State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss earlier on Wednesday, required the prime minister to immediately suspend himself.

"The report points at serious corruption suspicions and the prime minister has no alternative but to suspend himself and go on leave in order to face the criminal suspicions that arise from this and other reports," Orlev said.

In the wake of the suspicions publication, other members of the opposition also lashed out at Olmert.

Meretz Chairman Yossi Beilin called on Olmert to resign and clear the way for someone who "had the time to deal with the political and national challenges facing Israel."

MK Limor Livnat (Likud) said "one must reject the prime minister's merciless onslaught on the state comptroller over the investment center. No diversion will excuse him from providing answers to the serious report."

MK Ophir Pines-Paz, a Labor member who has repeatedly called for his party's withdrawal from the coalition, said Olmert's government had "lost its way" and that the report was another "nail in the coffin."