Israeli President Under Investigation

(January 23, 2000)

Israel President Ezer Weizman has confirmed receiving money from his friend, French millionaire Edouard Sarousi, although he says it is less than the $453,000 alleged by Israeli journalist Yoav Yitzhak, who broke the story last month. Weizman will not say how much he received and, on January 23, 2000, told the nation in a speech that he would not resign.

The president has said he reported the money to the extent that is required by the law. He was a Cabinet minister, and then a legislator during the period he acknowledges the gifts were given, 1988-93.

An initial police probe into whether Weizman had properly reported the gifts turned into a criminal investigation when police discovered that Weizman and Sarousi had not disclosed an earlier business relationship. Police formally launched the investigation on January 24.

Weizman's lawyers have said that the business relationship was confined to 1983-84, when the president was uninvolved in politics.

It is against the law to try a sitting president. A removal of the president from office would require the support of 90 out of 120 members of parliament. Less than 50 legislators have said they would support his removal but politicians across the politician spectrum and commentators have urged Weizman to step down.

Source: CNN