Ehud Olmert this week became Israel’s first former prime minister to head to prison. Here is a simple explanation of why, what legal troubles still await him, and the crimes for which he’ll never pay.
Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is going to jail — albeit only for 18 months. The Supreme Court shortened Olmert’s six sentence in a long-awaited appeal this week. The sentence was for a bribery conviction in a scandal referred to in the Israeli media as Holyland Affair. But that is far from the end of the plentiful legal sagas that forced the sitting prime minister to resign.
Olmert also has another appeal pending, against another conviction over another scandal, the Talansky Affair. The State, meanwhile, is appealing Olmert’s acquittal in a third trial, the Rishontours Affair, and a partial acquittal in a fourth, the Investment Center Affair.
Israel Police’s bribery unit, meanwhile is pressing for charges to be brought against the former prime minister for obstruction of justice, for alleged witness tampering, which would start — quite remarkably — a fifth legal entanglement.
Although Olmert’s criminal trials only began after his forced resignation, the actions for which he is answering began long before he ever took the reins of Israel’s government.
What it’s all about
The Investment Center Affair concerns Olmert’s tenure as minister of trade and infrastructure, when he allegedly intervened in the decisions of the ministry’s investment center to benefit projects submitted by his former law firm partner, Uri Messer.
The Talansky Affair concerns envelopes stuffed with cash, sent by businessman Moshe Talansky and delivered by intermediaries to Olmert the latter was mayor of Jerusalem (1993-2003) and minister of trade and infrastructure (2003-2006). The state claims Olmert pocketed the money; Olmert maintains it was campaign funds not used for personal gain.
The Rishontours Affair concerns Olmert using state funds to buy flight tickets for himself and his family on private trips abroad. Rishontours was the travel agency through which the flights were booked.
Finally, the Holyland Affair concerns bribery on a massive scale. Both Olmert and his successor as mayor of Jerusalem, Uri Lapoliansky, were convicted of accepting bribes in order to rush through permits and planning processes for an outlandishly grandiose residential complex on a Jerusalem hilltop — against the strong opposition of residents and ecologists. Olmert’s bribes alone, it was alleged, amounted to millions upon millions of Israeli shekels, and...Read More