Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is facing fresh allegations of corruption. The allegations pose an additional challenge for Mr. Sharon, who is trying to fend off a revolt in his own party.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon returned home from the U.N. world summit to a political storm over allegations of illegal campaign financing. According to Israel's Channel 10 Television, Mr. Sharon attended a dinner in New York where guests were asked to contribute $10,000 per couple to finance his re-election campaign for leadership of the ruling Likud party. That's exceeds the legal limit by more than $2,000.
The allegations made front page headlines, and politicians from across the political spectrum are demanding a formal investigation. Likud member Yuval Steinitz.
"All of us have to obey to the laws and especially the prime minister," said Yuval Steinitz.
Michael Melchior of the dovish Labor Party says corruption in Israeli politics is out of control.
"The major Israeli politicians from all parties during the last years have been raising funds in a [totally] different scale than what is permitted according to the law," said Michael Melchior.
Mr. Sharon's political allies deny any wrongdoing. The prime minister has faced corruption allegations in the past, but he escaped indictment because of lack of evidence. However, his son Omri was indicted for illegal campaign financing on behalf of his father.
The allegations come at a bad time for Mr. Sharon, who is facing a strong challenge for leadership of the hawkish Likud party from former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Mr. Netanyahu says the prime minister betrayed Likud ideology by dismantling 21 Gaza settlements and four more in the West Bank. Mr. Sharon won praise from world leaders at the U.N. for the Gaza pullout, but here at home, he is fighting for his political survival.