Published On: Sun, Jul 2nd, 2017

Israel’s Jailed Ex-PM, Ehud Olmert Released Early

ex-PM Ehud Olmert walks free after a parole board granted him an early release from his 27-month serving, a third for corruption sentence.

 

Ehud Olmert, Israel’s former prime minister, and mayor of Jerusalem, was released from prison Sunday morning days after a parole board granted him an early release from his 27-month corruption sentence.

Spokesman Assaf Librati said Olmert, 71, was whisked away by Israel’s security service after his release and driven home.

He said that under the terms of his early release, Olmert for the next few months has to do volunteer work, must appear before police twice a month and cannot give interviews to the media or leave the country.

He added that President Reuven Rivlin could relieve him of the parole restrictions.

Olmert was convicted in 2014 in a wide-ranging case that accused him of accepting bribes to promote Holy Land real-estate project in Jerusalem and obstructing justice. The charges pertained to a period when he was mayor of Jerusalem and trade minister before he became premier in 2006.

Olmert was originally sentenced to six years but he waged a relentless legal battle in his quest to reduce what some considered a harsh punishment.

Efforts paid off in December 2015 when the sentence was reduced to 18 months, but Olmert was then hit with an additional 8 months in September 2016 after Israel’s supreme court threw out his appeal.

 


His imprisonment ended the last major Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts and ushered in the era of Benjamin Netanyahu in 2009.

Ehud Olmert was a longtime fixture in Israel’s right-wing camp when he began taking a dramatically more conciliatory line toward the Palestinians more than a decade ago. He played a leading role in Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005 and became prime minister in January 2006 after then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon suffered a debilitating stroke.

He resigned amid a corruption scandal that clouded his administration. He was later charged, convicted and imprisoned.

A gifted orator, he led his government to the Annapolis peace conference in November 2007—launching more than a year of ambitious, but ultimately unsuccessful US-brokered peace talks.

Ehud Olmert has said he made unprecedented concessions to the Palestinians—including a near-total withdrawal from the West Bank and an offer to place Jerusalem’s Old City under international control—and was close to reaching an agreement at the time of his resignation.

By Associated Press and Ynet News

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