JERUSALEM, (Reuters) – Israeli police plan to question Prime Minister Ehud Olmert next week as part of an investigation that could force the Israeli leader out of office, officials said on Friday.
A government official said Olmert’s office has agreed to allot two hours for the Aug. 2 session, less time than police had requested.
It would be the fourth round of questioning in a case probing allegations Olmert took bribes from an American businessman and whether he made duplicate claims for travel expenses.
The political turmoil could derail U.S.-backed peace talks between Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Olmert’s lawyers this week wrapped up five days of cross-examination of American fund raiser Morris Talansky who has alleged that he gave the Israeli leader cash-filled envelopes. Talansky’s cross-examination will resume on Aug 31 and Sept 1.
Olmert has denied any wrongdoing and said he will resign if charged.
The prime minister has faced a handful of inquiries recently into his past financial affairs as mayor of Jerusalem for 10 years until 2003 and subsequently as a cabinet minister until he succeeded the ailing Ariel Sharon as premier in early 2006.