Two Likud Aides Arrested for Alleged Involvement in Land Sale Fraud

The arrest of two senior Likud aides today for alleged involvement in a West Bank land sales fraud has sparked new tension between Likud and its Labor Party partner in the unity coalition government. Likud MK Haim Kaufman, chairman of the coalition executive, accused Police Minister Haim Barlev (Labor) of waging a political war and warned “he will pay the price.”

The detained officials are Avi Tzur, spokesman for the Airport Authority, and Claude Malka, assistant to Transport Minister Haim Corfu of Likud. Both were formerly aides to Deputy Minister of Agriculture Michael Dekel who was named Deputy Defense Minister this week.

According to the police, Tzur allegedly gave a Jewish contractor — presently on trial — a letter informing the contractor that the government had approved the settlement of Kramim in the Samaria district when no such approval had been forthcoming.

Tzur is also suspected of having taken bribes. Police testified at the contractor’s trial today that some of the bribe money went into Tzur’s pocket and some to Likud.

Kaufman accused Barlev of political motives. He claimed financial scandals involving businesses close to the Labor Party were never investigated by the police.

Barlev retorted that the investigation into the Kramim affair began when Yosef Burg of the National Religious Party was Minister of Interior and in charge of the police. The NRP was a partner in the Likud-led coalition government at the time. Barlev stressed that the police is completely independent and succumbs to no pressure in its investigations, “not even from the Police Minister himself.”

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