David Appel has been indicted on charges that he bribed Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon adding to Sharon’s already complicated legal situation.
Although Sharon has not been charged with any criminal wrongdoing, analysts predict that the indictment increases the chance he will face charges.
The Supreme Court has already ruled that if Sharon is charged he would be forced to leave office pending an outcome of the trial.
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Appel was indicted in the Tel Aviv Magistrates court for allegedly giving Sharon hundreds of thousands of dollars to use his influence to sponsor a
real-estate project in Greece in 1999 (Sharon was only Foreign Minister at this time) and to help rezone urban land near Tel Aviv before and during
Sharon's term as prime minister. Although Sharon is reported in both cases neither of the two land deals came to pass.
Sharon is already in legal hot water for allegations of illegal campaign financing with a 1.5 million dollar loan provided by foreign businessmen.
The new indictment is causing Sharon’s opposition to call for his resignation.
Increased pressure on Sharon could further endanger the already moribund peace process, destabilize the coalition government and trigger a gloves-off
battle for succession in the upper ranks of the Likud, politicians and analysts said.
The prime minister continues to work as scheduled and has not changed anything in his work," an official said on condition of anonymity.
Nonetheless, opposition lawmakers called on the prime minister to step down.
"He should resign," said former Finance Minister Avraham Shochat of the Labor Party. "He is polluting the atmosphere."
If the Prime Minister were to
resign it would add more pressure to the fragile peace process currently being carried out.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, right, and his Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, left, are seen in this Jan. 12, 2004, file photo, during a
session of the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament, in Jerusalem.
[Edited on 21-1-2004 by SkepticOverlord]