Former Israeli PM Ehud Olmert found guilty on bribery charges

Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert speaks at the 2012 Jerusalem Post Conference in New York. Credit: Maxine Dovere.

( Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was convicted by an Israeli court Monday on charges related to bribes he took as part of a real-estate deal.

According to the 700-page verdict issued by the Israeli Justice Department, Olmert, 68, was found guilty of two bribery charges for accepting $160,000 from the developers of the massive Holyland apartment complex in Jerusalem while he was mayor of the city more than a decade ago.

Olmert resigned as prime minister in 2008 amid a separate corruption scandal. He was later acquitted of most of the charges in that case.

The verdict represents the first time a former Israeli prime minister has been convicted of bribery and will likely end speculation that Olmert will seek public office again. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for late April.

Regarding Olmert's political legacy, Israel Hayom columnist Dror Eydar suggested that the former prime minister was willing to make major territorial concessions in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process in exchange for immunity from Israeli media outlets. Olmert "could have stayed in power if he had succeeded in carrying out a nefarious plan, which is in the main an unconditional withdrawal from the land of our life and the destruction of Jewish settlement," wrote Eydar.

"Who protected Olmert for years, even though everyone knew what he was up to?" he wrote. "Of course, Yedioth Ahronoth, the newspaper that once had its own nation, and after that nation was stolen from it, kept Olmert as a trophy of the crime: he might be exonerated and once again take power. Look at who gathered around that newspaper: people accused and convicted of crimes and those who were let off on reasonable doubt—the whole gang that could have given the Left a chance to regain power. These were people versed in tricks and dirty tricks, since the end—eradicating Jewish settlement, which for some reason is called 'the peace process'—justifies any means."

Posted on March 31, 2014 .