Ehud Olmert Convicted in 6-Figure 'Holyland' Bribery Case

Ex-Premier Faces Up to 10 Years in Prison

getty images

By Reuters

Published March 31, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share

An Israeli court convicted former prime minister Ehud Olmert on Monday of accepting a six-figure sum in bribes linked to a real-estate deal, probably ending any prospects of a political comeback.

Olmert, a centrist credited internationally with working towards a peace settlement with the Palestinians, had denied wrongdoing in the Holyland apartment complex deal, which took place while he was in his previous post of Jerusalem mayor.

Two years ago, the veteran politician was acquitted of most of the major charges brought against him in separate cases involving his links to a U.S. businessman - corruption accusations that forced his resignation as premier in 2008.

After what was the first bribery conviction of a former head of government in Israel, Olmert, 68, could face up to 10 years in prison.

A former president, Moshe Katsav, has been serving a seven-year prison term for rape since 2011.

Olmert will appeal the verdict, said his spokesman, Jacob Galanti. No date was immediately set for sentencing, and the appeals process is likely to take months to run its course.

According to a summary of Monday’s 700-page verdict provided by the Justice Ministry, Judge David Rozen found Olmert guilty of two bribery charges and said he accepted 560,000 shekels ($160,000) from developers of the Holyland project.

Prosecutors had alleged he received more than 800,000 shekels, but he was acquitted on two other corruption charges.

Handing down the verdict in Tel Aviv District Court, Rozen said the case “exposed governance that grew more corrupt and rotten over the years”, with bribes paid to public officials.

NETANYAHU CRITIC

In recent months, Olmert has been critical of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s policies toward the Palestinians and confronting Iran’s nuclear programme, fuelling speculation he intended to return to politics.

A lawyer by profession, Olmert began his political career in the 1970s as a legislator who targeted organised crime in Israel.

He served as mayor of Jerusalem from 1993 to 2003 and as prime minister from 2006 to 2009, staying in office in a caretaker capacity until after a general election that brought right-winger Netanyahu to power.

As prime minister, Olmert waged war against militants in Lebanon in 2006 and the Gaza Strip in 2008.

He claimed significant progress in talks with the Palestinians aimed at securing a final peace deal, offering an Israeli withdrawal from much of the occupied West Bank. But no agreement was reached.

Current U.S.-brokered peace talks between the Netanyahu government and the Palestinians have faltered, with Washington struggling to keep negotiations going beyond an original April 29 target date for a deal.

Olmert was among 13 defendants in the Holyland case, which revolved around the construction of a hulking, hilltop housing project widely regarded as Jerusalem’s worst eyesore.

One of the accused, Shula Zaken, was Olmert’s former long-time aide who last week offered to turn state’s witness against him.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • A boost for morale, if not morals.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.