Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and 17 others were indicted on Thursday in the so-called Holyland case, for allegedly giving or receiving bribes to advance various real estate ventures.
Almost two years after one of the largest corruption scandals in Israel’s history first erupted, indictments in the case are due to be filed on Thursday.
In March 2011, the prosecution announced that it had enough evidence to indict 18 people, including former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, former Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski and former Israel Lands Administration director Yaakov Efrati. All are suspected of giving or taking bribes to advance various real estate ventures, most notably the Holyland luxury housing project in Jerusalem. During the years when the alleged bribery occurred, Olmert was first mayor of Jerusalem and later the cabinet minister in charge of the ILA.
The key prosecution witness, a businessman identified only as S. who served as middleman for the bribes, later told the police that “in talks I held with Mayor Olmert, with chairman of the local planning and building committee Lupolianski and with members of the local committee, it was made clear to me that via the ‘give and take’ method, I could get [the benefits] I desired … I want to stress: The hints were from those people to me, not the reverse, because I wouldn’t have dared.”
Ultimately, the developers were given huge tax breaks, additional building rights and other benefits worth tens of millions of shekels.