Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was sentenced to six years in prison Tuesday for accepting bribes.
Olmert was convicted of bribery in March 2014. The charge stems from a bribe of over 500,000 NIS that Olmert accepted while he was the mayor of Jerusalem. Eight other Israeli officials, including another mayor of Jerusalem, were convicted of bribery for taking payouts from land developers seeking licenses in what has become known as the “Holyland affair.”
According to an Associated Press report, Olmert continues to deny taking any bribes. His legal team stated that Olmert intends to appeal both his conviction and his sentence to Israel’s Supreme Court. A spokesperson for Olmert stated that the conviction is “unjust,” citing Olmert’s contributions to Israel as prime minister.
Olmert served as mayor of Jerusalem from 1993 to 2003 and as prime minister of Israel from 2006 to 2009. Throughout his political career Olmert had battled allegations of corruption.
Shortly after taking office as prime minister, Israel became embroiled in conflict with Lebanon. Lebanon’s Hezbollah forces rained down rocket attacks on northern Israel and the Golan Heights as Israeli forces conducted raids into Hezbollah territory in southern Lebanon. Over 150 Israelis are believed to have died in the conflict. Though Olmert responded with force, his handling of the situation was widely criticized, leading to extremely low popularity among Israelis and calls for his resignation.
Despite his low popularity, Olmert was instrumental to the 2007 Arab-Israeli peace talks. Olmert entertained the idea of a two-state solution during the talks, which were cut short of a resolution by conflict on the Gaza border and Olmert’s resignation as prime minister brought an end to the talks. Olmert would eventually order the Israeli invasion of Gaza in retaliation for Hamas rocket attacks at the border.
Starting in early 2007 Israeli police began an official criminal investigation into Olmert’s past real estate dealings. Other similar allegations of corruption surfaced during Olmert’s tenure as prime minister, eventually forcing Olmert to step down.
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