Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was handed a relatively light sentence yesterday, having been convicted of breach of trust. However, reports suggest that the path is not yet clear for his return to politics.
The Jerusalem District Court yesterday fined Olmert approximately £11,000 and handed him a one-year suspended prison sentence, after he was found guilty in July of breach of trust during his time as Minister of Trade and Industry. He had been forced to resign as Prime Minister in 2009, in the wake of a series of corruption allegations. Many commentators have speculated that having been acquitted of the bulk of charges against him, yesterday’s relatively lenient sentence clears the way for Olmert’s return to politics.
However, the Hebrew media reports that the State Attorney’s Office is almost certain to appeal Olmert’s acquittal in a separate case, known as the Talansky affair, in which the former Prime Minister was accused of having illegally accepted money from an American businessman. Channel 2 News reported that the state prosecution is ‘100 per cent certain’ to appeal the Talansky ruling and may also seek to overturn Olmert’s acquittal in the Rishon Tours affair, in which he was accused of maintaining an illegal travel slush fund.
In addition to these possible legal challenges, Olmert’s return to politics is likely to be delayed until another case is settled, relating to his time as Jerusalem mayor. He is accused of accepting bribes in exchange for approving the construction of a large real estate project, in what is known as the Holyland affair.