The Guardian January 22, 2003


Sharon & Sons in trouble

by Hans Lebrecht
Kibbutz Beit-Oren, Israel

Can you imagine a Supreme Judge ordering the shutdown of a TV broadcast of 
a press conference by incumbent US President George W Bush? It happened, 
albeit not in the US, but in Israel with the incumbent Prime Minister Ariel 
Sharon. On January 9, PM Sharon had hardly started his address when our 
screens turned dark and the news studios of the various channels appeared. 
The moderators announced that on an urgent order of the chairman of the 
Central Election Board, Supreme Court Judge Mishael Cheshin, the broadcast 
had been blacked out.

The matter was about the latest offence against the law by our highly 
esteemed Prime Minister. Supreme Court Judge Cheshin had ordered the state-
owned TV and radio channels to stop the broadcast because Sharon had used 
the TV screening of his press conference for electioneering propaganda, and 
thus had contravened the election law.

Sharon was supposed solely to tell the media his version about the 
accusations against him and his sons, Gideon and Omri, concerning a multi-
million dollar bribe and fund-raising scandal during his 1999 election 
drive against his party rival Benjamin Netanyahu for the Prime Minister's 
post.

The daily Ha'aretz had published a document the Israeli police 
criminal investigation department had sent via the Foreign Ministry to 
South Africa, asking for assistance in the investigations of the Sharon 
file regarding a wealthy Cape-Town businessman.

The Israeli State Attorney is investigating the Sharons over allegations 
the Prime Minister lied about US$1.5 million used to repay illegal campaign 
funds.

The investigation goes back five years.

The Sharons are alleged to have approached Cyril Kern, a British 
businessman living in South Africa who had served under Sharon in the 
fighting against the British in 1948, and that Kern paid the sons the 
money.

Sharon's financial scandal has become public interest number one. If and 
how far these two matters will influence the results of the forthcoming 
Knesset elections has yet to be seen.

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