Abramoff Scandal Could
End Netanyahu's
Likud Takeover
By Wayne Madsen

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 "clean government."
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 in Israel.
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.



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