- Abramoff scandal could end Netanyahu's and Cheney's plans
for Likud takeover in Israel. Informed sources in Washington report that
Vice President Dick Cheney and his advisers David Addington and John Hannah
are working behind the scenes to ensure that former Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu succeeds acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. With elections scheduled
for March 28, Cheney and his neo-con cabal are hoping that Olmert's Kadima
Party -- formed by Ariel Sharon and his more moderate ex-Likud allies --
is defeated in the elections.
- According to law enforcement sources, investigators are
looking at Abramoff's possible connections to the defunct Oasis Casino
in Jericho in the West Bank. The casino, which began operations in 1998,
was partly-owned by CAP, a company registered in Liechtenstein in which
the Palestinian Authority under Yasir Arafat was a 23 percent shareholder.
Another owner was a Vienna, Austria-based casino company, Casinos Austria
International, in which Martin Schlaff, a close friend of Sharon, was a
major investor. Schlaff's brother, James, is also under investigation.
Last week, Israeli police seized computers, cell phones, documents, and
a PDA from the home of Schlaff's parents in Israel while he was visiting
from Austria. Police also investigated money transfers to Gilad Sharon,
Ariel Sharon's son, from South African businessman Cyril Kern and other
transfers via BAWAG Bank in Austria. Sharon's other son, Omri, was also
financially involved in the Oasis casino.
- It is noteworthy that the Israeli Justice Ministry has
postponed any indictments until after the March 28 elections. The neo-con
media is ignoring Netanyahu's own role as Israel's Finance Minister during
the casino scandals, choosing to repaint the radical right-winger as championing
- As with Indian casinos on reservations drawing huge numbers
of gamblers from states where casinos are illegal, the Oasis casino was
seen as attracting large numbers of Israelis since casinos are also illegal
- Although Netanyahu criticized the Oasis casino as providing
funding for Palestinian terrorists, investigators are looking at Netanyahu's
involvement in helping to steer $140,000 in tribal casino money away from
Abramoff's Capitol Athletic Foundation (CAF) charity in Washington, DC
to right-wing West Bank settlers in Beitar Illit on the West Bank so they
could buy "security equipment" and sniper lessons. Records indicate
a flow of money from CAF to Kollel Ohel Tiferet, a virtually unknown group
in Israel. Netanyahu, as Finance Minister in Sharon's former Likud government,
would have been aware of money transfers from Abramoff to various Israeli
interests, including the settlers and casino interests.