Zaken Expected to Face Arrest Upon Return: 'I Have Nothing to Run From'

Shula Zaken, the former bureau chief and confidant of former prime minister Ehud Olmert, is due to return from the United States early in the week, at which time she is expected to be questioned by police as part of its investigation into the Holyland bribery affair.

Zaken will likely be remanded to house arrest based on concerns that she may try to disrupt the police investigation against her.

Over the weekend, Zaken gave an interview to Channel 2 from her vacation in the United States, rejecting the possibility that she might also turn state's witness in the Holyland affair. She also rejected media reports that she was involved in the Holyland development project in Jerusalem.

"No one made an offer [to be state witness], and it is not part of my agenda. I will not be a state witness for something that did not happen," she said.

Zaken also said that she will cooperate with the investigators and answer all questions, claiming that she has nothing to run away from. She added that she was saddened by the possibility that she might be arrested and said that it was all an effort to "gain points" against her.

"There is a huge difference between what is being reported and what I know," she said. "When I return I will answer questions and I will cooperate. I have nothing to run from."

When asked why she did not cooperate in previous investigations, Zaken replied that "I did not cooperate because I did not believe in the investigation, because I understood from the first question that they're trying to bring down the prime minister [Olmert]."

During her televised interview, Zaken said she was expected back in Israel prior to the continuation of deliberations at the District Court. "I was granted permission to travel. Three days before the deliberations [were set to resume] they were delayed by a month... so I decided to stay a little longer," she said.

Sources involved in the questioning said that the rate of arrests will drop as the majority of key suspects in the affair have already either been questioned or arrested. However, more officials in the Jerusalem Municipality, the District Committee for Planning and Construction and others involved over the years in the issuing of permits for the Holyland development project, as well as Ayalon Park and the Manara cliff site, are expected to be brought in for questioning.

It is expected that in the near future, and possibly even this week, the gag order on the identity of the state witness in the Holyland affair will be lifted, in light of the fact that the investigation has reached an advanced stage.

Comments made by the Rishon Letzion Magistrate's Court Judge, Abraham Heiman - regarding most of those arrested suspects brought before him to be remanded into custody - the secret reports the police presented to him suggest there is much more than a reasonable degree of suspicion that they were involved in the crimes attributed to them.

Still, indictments are considered months away.

Meanwhile, former Bank Hapoalim chairman Danny Dankner, Israel Lands Administration director Yaakov Efrati, and former Jerusalem deputy mayor Eli Simchayof, are likely to be released to house arrest today.

Dankner is suspected of bribing Efrati, who in turn helped to promote land development projects for a firm Dankner owned and to rezone agricultural land belonging to the firm as residential - upping the value significantly.