Ariel Sharon might seem to be a classic case of a cerebral episode waiting to happen. He was certainly very overweight and 77 years but he had pressures other than just being Prime Minister of Israel, setting up a new party and running for election to worry about. This extra stress may well have precipitated his latest stroke.

Buried away in the news pages by the Abramoff case has been the conviction of one of Sharon’s sons in a scandal involving campaign finance. Both have been suspected of one financial scandal or another but on Tuesday Omri resigned his seat in the Knessett after being convicted for giving false testimony and forging documents in connection with the financing of Ariel’s bid for the leadership of Likud in 1999.  
Omri’s plea-bargained conviction came after he gave up his parliamentary immunity. The BBC analysis outlines the basis of the scam

 Mr Sharon spent $1.5m more than the law allows on his party leadership campaign. To repay this overspend, Mr Sharon sought to mortgage his family ranch. It emerged that the Sharons did not actually own all of the ranch.

In 2002, an old friend of Mr Sharon, South Africa-based British businessman Cyril Kern, transferred $1.5m into the bank accounts of the prime minister’s sons, Gilad and Omri, a member of the Israeli parliament.

This allowed the Sharons to pay back the campaign overspend using Mr Kern’s money as collateral against a loan.

The use of Mr Kern’s money in this way may have been a further infringement of election finance rules, as Israeli political parties are not allowed to raise funds from abroad.

In February last year Ariel was formally cleared of charges but it was thought that Omri “took the fall” for his father. As the Guardian  explained at the time

there is a widespread view within Israel’s legal system and among the public that Mr Sharon escaped for political reasons and that his 40-year-old son and political adviser has accepted responsibility on his behalf.

Ariel and his other son were no strangers to allegations of corruption. The previously linked BBC analysis gives an outline of the “Greek island affair” for which again Ariel escaped prosecution.

He was alleged to have accepted bribes from Israeli businessman David Appel to use his influence when foreign minister in the 1990s over a property deal in Greece.

Mr Appel was alleged to have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to Mr Sharon’s son Gilad, whom he employed as a consultant in the scheme to develop the island of Patroklos. Gilad had no previous experience in the tourism industry.

Attorney General Menachem Mazuz decided that there was insufficient evidence to warrant charges against Mr Sharon, contrary to recommendations by the chief prosecutor.

An interviewee on Sky News tonight also indicated that Ariel was told yesterday that the police had further information regarding (unspecified in the interview) allegations about campaign finance corruption.
Update [2006-1-5 0:56:44 by Londonbear]: This was crossposted on Kos and Thor provided this link to an Israeli news site that gives more on the new allegations (dated January 4,2006)

Calls directed at Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, to step down from office, are resonating from many prominent political personalities following a Channel 10 News report on Tuesday night that the prime minister received a $3 million payment from a supporter.

Labor Party Secretary Eitan Cabel and former Meretz-Yahad leader Yossi Sarid are among the more vocal elected officials, who are demanding Mr. Sharon remove himself from office in light of the latest report linking him to illegal activities.

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