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Israeli PM's statement on corruption allegations

(Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert admitted on Thursday that he took cash from an American businessman but refused to resign over a police investigation into hundreds of thousands of dollars of alleged bribes.

Here are extracts from his statement:

“These are uneasy days for the Israeli public, for me and for my family. For over a week the country has been going through waves of speculation. I have received a modified injunction order and so I stand here before you to explain.

“In 1993, contact was established between myself and a foreign resident, Mr Moshe Talansky, whose profession is fundraising. At that time I was running for mayor of Jerusalem. Mr Talansky helped me raise funds for the election campaign. In 1998, I again ran for mayor of Jerusalem and Mr Talansky helped me raise funds. Also, in 1999 when I ran for the leadership of the Likud party, Mr Talansky helped me raise funds for the elections. In 2002, I ran in elections in the Likud party and Mr Talansky, as he did in the past, helped me raise funds. He also helped me cover deficits that accumulated during elections in which I took part.

“I have been questioned over suspicions that I received money unlawfully. I look each and every one of you in the eye and say: ‘I never took bribes. I never took a penny for myself.’

“I was elected by you, the citizens of Israel, to be prime minister. I do not intend to shrug off this responsibility. However, although not required by law, if the attorney general decides to file an indictment against me I will resign. I hope and believe that we will not reach this stage.”

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