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!
  • A new Gallup poll shows that only 25% of Americans under 35 support the war in #Gaza. Does this statistic worry you?
  • “You will stomp us into the dirt,” is how her mother responded to Anya Ulinich’s new tragicomic graphic novel. Paul Berger has a more open view of ‘Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: Hundreds of protesters marched through lower Manhattan yesterday demanding an end to American support for Israel’s operation in #Gaza.
  • Does #Hamas have to lose for there to be peace? Read the latest analysis by J.J. Goldberg.
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • 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.