No charges against Sharon

By Aaron Klein

Israel’s Supreme Court yesterday upheld the attorney general’s decision not to indict Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on corruption charges involving a failed real estate deal in 1998. Sharon would have been forced to resign if he had been charged.

By a vote of 6 to 1, the court rejected an appeal from several lawmakers to overturn the attorney general’s decision. In June, the attorney general decided against bringing formal charges against Mr. Sharon, despite a recommendation from Israel’s state prosecutor that he be charged with accepting bribes from a contractor.

The scandal focused on suspicions surrounding the payment of hundreds of thousands of dollars to one of the prime minister’s sons for consultant services in a Greek-island resort project in the 1990s. Prosecutors had charged the payments were an attempt to bribe then-foreign minister Sharon.

“The petitions do not show just cause for the court to intervene in the attorney general’s decision,” the High Court said in its ruling, which marked the legal end of the case.

The ruling clears the way for Sharon to press ahead with coalition talks with the opposition Labor party about entering his government in support of his plan to unilaterally withdraw from the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank by the end of 2005.