ITWASSOOTED: Abramoff scandal could end Netanyahu's and Cheney's plans for Likud takeover in Israel.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Abramoff scandal could end Netanyahu's and Cheney's plans for Likud takeover in Israel.

January 12, 2006 -- Abramoff scandal could end Netanyahu's and Cheney's plans for Likud takeover in Israel. Informed sources in Washington report that Vice President Dick Cheney and his advisers David Addington and John Hannah are working behind the scenes to ensure that former Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu succeeds acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. With elections scheduled for March 28, Cheney and his neo-con cabal are hoping that Olmert's Kadima Party -- formed by Ariel Sharon and his more moderate ex-Likud allies -- is defeated in the elections.

According to law enforcement sources, investigators are looking at Abramoff's possible connections to the defunct Oasis Casino in Jericho in the West Bank. The casino, which began operations in 1998, was partly-owned by CAP, a company registered in Liechtenstein in which the Palestinian Authority under Yasir Arafat was a 23 percent shareholder. Another owner was a Vienna, Austria-based casino company, Casinos Austria International, in which Martin Schlaff, a close friend of Sharon, was a major investor. Schlaff's brother, James, is also under investigation. Last week, Israeli police seized computers, cell phones, documents, and a PDA from the home of Schlaff's parents in Israel while he was visiting from Austria. Police also investigated money transfers to Gilad Sharon, Ariel Sharon's son, from South African businessman Cyril Kern and other transfers via BAWAG Bank in Austria. Sharon's other son, Omri, was also financially involved in the Oasis casino.

It is noteworthy that the Israeli Justice Ministry has postponed any indictments until after the March 28 elections. The neo-con media is ignoring Netanyahu's own role as Israel's Finance Minister during the casino scandals, choosing to repaint the radical right-winger as championing "clean government."

As with Indian casinos on reservations drawing huge numbers of gamblers from states where casinos are illegal, the Oasis casino was seen as attracting large numbers of Israelis since casinos are also illegal in Israel.

Although Netanyahu criticized the Oasis casino as providing funding for Palestinian terrorists, investigators are looking at Netanyahu's involvement in helping to steer $140,000 in tribal casino money away from Abramoff's Capitol Athletic Foundation (CAF) charity in Washington, DC to right-wing West Bank settlers in Beitar Illit on the West Bank so they could buy "security equipment" and sniper lessons. Records indicate a flow of money from CAF to Kollel Ohel Tiferet, a virtually unknown group in Israel. Netanyahu, as Finance Minister in Sharon's former Likud government, would have been aware of money transfers from Abramoff to various Israeli interests, including the settlers and casino interests.

What investigators are quickly discovering is a global Abramoff network involving Russian-Israeli criminal syndicates that were involved in laundering money through Sun Cruz casino boats in Florida, casinos on Indian tribal lands in the United States, West Bank of Palestine, the Greek isle of Patroclos (which involved Israeli land developer David Appel and Gilad Sharon), a Sun Cruz casino ship in Saipan, an Internet gambling and lottery venture in Guam, and casinos in the Philippines, Sharm el Sheikh in the Sinai, pachinko slot machines and casinos in Japan, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Canada, Virgin Islands, South Africa, and Abramoff's hometown of Atlantic City, New Jersey.

The pattern that is emerging is that Abramoff and his criminal associates not only used various casinos around the world to enrich themselves but also used them to launder money into right-wing/neo-con political campaign coffers in the United States, Israel, and other countries. Prominent recipients included Tom DeLay's Political Action Committees and Netanyahu's allies in the settler's movement.

Former Cheney security aide, Leandro Aragoncillo, an ex-Marine who was arrested while working for the FBI in Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, is tied to Michael Ray Aquino and former Philippine President Joseph Estrada. Aquino and Estrada, who were working with Aragoncillo in transmitting classified documents on Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from Cheney's office to Estrada in order to help in his bid to oust Macapagal-Arroyo from office, are also linked to Abramoff. A return of Estrada to power in Manila would have not only benefit Abramoff's casino deals in the Philippines but would have returned to country to the pro-U.S. camp in Iraq and other military initiatives.

Having failed to unseat Macapagal-Arroyo in the Philippines with the assistance of Abramoff's confederates, Cheney's shadow foreign policy is now directed at assuring a Netanyahu win in Israel.
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