Photo Credit: Twitter
Prisoner Ehud Olmert at Sheba hospital, June 2017

Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert left Ma’asiyahu Prison Sunday morning after serving 16 months in prison for corruption. Olmert was released after the State Parole Board decided that his sentence should be reduced – and the State Attorney’s Office decided not to appeal the parole board’s decision.

The parole board members: retired judge Rachel Greenberg, and attorneys Hanan Nahmani and Galit Kreisler, stated that Olmert had indeed violated the Israel Prison Service rules regarding classified documents he sent out from his prison cell, however, the board did not find evidence to the prosecution’s claim that this was “an ongoing pattern of fraud.”

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The parole board’s absolution was the culmination of a questionable move on the part of the prosecution and police. A few days before the first hearing of Olmert’s appeal by the parole board, police raided the Yedioth Ahronoth publishing house and confiscated copies of Olmert’s yet to be published book. Police claimed the book contained classified material that allegedly harms state security. The raid was carried out after Olmert’s attorney, Hanina Brandes, was caught last April coming out of a meeting with his clients with an envelope packed with classified documents written by the former prime minister.

The IPS transferred the confiscated documents to the Defense Ministry, which transferred their findings to the State Prosecutor’s Office, which launched an investigation. In fact, the Prosecutor’s Office wanted to postpone the parole board hearing indefinitely but only received a one-week postponement. A request for an extension was rejected by parole board chairman, retired judge Rachel Goldberg.

It’s good to have friends everywhere.

It is possible that the parole board was cutting through protocol and legal and security concerns because prisoner Olmert was deathly ill. On June 23, Transport Minister Yisrael Katz tweeted a picture that had been taken, most likely by reporter Yoav Krakowski, of prisoner Olmert eating lunch at Sheba Medical Center and looking deathly ill. Speculations in Israeli media suggested the picture was leaked as a means of pulling the heartstrings of the parole board. It worked.

Ehud Olmert is part of the gallery of the executioners of Gush Katif – Israeli officials who actively contributed to the expulsion of some 8,600 Jews form their homes in August, 2005. Some of them are no longer with us – most poignantly the expulsion’s architect, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who, a few months after his despicable act, succumbed to an eight-year coma from which he died. Some have ended in prison (Olmert and former President Moshe Katzav). Many have just disappeared from the political map.

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