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October 23, 2014 / 29 Tishri, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Olmert’

Israel’s State Prosecutor to Appeal Olmert Acquittals

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

Israel’s state prosecutor will appeal the acquittals of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in two of three cases decided earlier this year.

The prosecutor informed Olmert’s attorney on Tuesday that it will appeal the July acquittals on charges of fraud, breach of trust, tax evasion and falsifying corporate records in what became known as the Talansky and Rishon Tours affairs, according to the Justice Ministry.

His sentence in the Investment Center Affair, in which the Jerusalem District Court found Olmert guilty on the lesser charge of breach of trust, also will be appealed. Last month Olmert was sentenced to one to three years of probation and fined some $19,000 for granting personal favors to attorney Uri Messer when Olmert served as trade minister. The former prime minister could have faced up to three years in jail.

The announcement came a day after the 18th Knesset voted to dissolve itself and go to new elections in January, and as Olmert reportedly was deciding whether to attempt a political comeback in the elections.

Last week, Likud Party lawmaker Tzipi Hotovely petitioned Israel’s Central Elections Committee to prevent Olmert from running for office, citing the July conviction. The sentence in the Investment Center case did not include a ruling of moral turpitude, which would have prevented the 67-year-old from re-entering politics for seven years.

Olmert had agreed to forgo the perks awarded to a former head of state, including a secretary, an office and a car, in exchange for the finding.

Olmert is the first former Israeli prime minister ever to stand trial. He officially resigned as prime minister in September 2008 after police investigators recommended that he be indicted in the Talansky case.

Likud Lawmaker Aims to Block Rumored Comeback by Olmert

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Likud Party lawmaker Tzipi Hotovely reportedly petitioned Israel’s Central Elections Committee to prevent former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert from running for office.

Israel’s Army Radio reported that Hotovely asked committee chair Elyakim Rubinstein, a Supreme Court justice and former attorney general, to disqualify Olmert, the former leader of the centrist Kadima Party, from contending in the upcoming elections because of his conviction in July for breach of trust during a stint as minister of trade and industry.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Likud said Israel would hold early elections early next year.

“It is inconceivable that Olmert be allowed to run for office in this situation, as elections are meant to increase the public’s trust in the political system, not diminish it,” Army Radio quoted Hotovely as saying in explaining her request.

In convicting and handing Olmert a suspended sentence, the court did not state that his offenses carried moral turpitude, which would have barred him from running. Olmert was cleared of more serious allegations of corruption that had forced him to resign in 2008.

Yoel Hasson of Kadima said that Hotovely’s request showed “Likud was panicking” because of the prospect of Olmert returning to public life.

Dalia Itzik, another Kadima lawmaker, said the party’s current leader, Shaul Mofaz, should step down and be replaced by Olmert.

Speaking with Army Radio, former Kadima minister Haim Ramon said he was talking to Olmert and former Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni about possibly forming a new political party. Ramon added, however, that Olmert has not yet made a decision on whether to return to politics.

Olmert “Standing Tall” After Receiving Commuted Sentence

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

Former prime minister Ehud Olmert told a press conference Monday that he leaves court “standing tall” after being handed a one year suspended sentence and a fine of NIS 75,300 for breaching the public trust in what has been called the “Investment Center Affair”.  Olmert was charged with using his position as Minister of Industry, Trade, and Labor to benefit his friends and colleagues.

If Olmert commits a similar crime in the next three years, he will have to serve jail time.

Analysts expected Olmert to be sentenced to at least six months of community service, which in and of itself would have been seen as a major coup. Though the state recommended a six month prison sentence to be served through community service, Olmert argued that he had been through enough after having given up his position as prime minister and undergoing 4 years of court cases and investigations and should therefore be given no penalty. The court ultimately agreed with his arguments.

Olmert was acquitted in July of all serious crimes related to a series of incidents.

Olmert, who turns 67 on September 30, has expressed an interest in re-entering the political arena.

Elliot Abrams: Americans Support Israeli Strike on Iran; Iranians Don’t Fear Obama

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

Former advisor to George W. Bush Elliot Abrams stated in an interview that the American people would support an Israeli strike on Iran and criticized the Obama Administration for its handling of Iran’s nuclear threat, calling Obama’s approach “weak.”

“The President has made one big mistake . . . We have not made the Iranians afraid of a strike and I think they ought to be afraid of a strike – of an American strike in reality,” Abrams said in an interview with the Jerusalem Post.

Abrams said that this may be the reason why Iran has no desire to conclude an agreement with the Permanent Members of the Security Council and Germany (the so-called “P5+1”).

“They do not think it’s possible. They do not think it’s in the cards. I think that is one of the reasons diplomacy has failed – and it has failed,” he said.

As for an Israeli strike, Abrams said it would be “justifiable” given the danger Iran poses to Israel.

Abrams credited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for “helping along” the sanctions regime against Iran with his public statements.

“I think the Europeans, for example, would not have supported sanctions as much as they have, nor, I think, the Russians [or] the Chinese, had it not been for Israel’s drawing attention to the threat from Iran and drawing attention to the possibility that Israel would feel [it] must act against that threat,” Abrams said.

Abrams predicted that Obama would not be able to take punitive measures against Israel for such a strike, saying that “in an election year it’s particularly hard for a president …to take a position against Israel as the American people are taking a position in favor of Israel.”

Abrams also revealed that one of the reasons President Bush pursued the Annapolis Peace Conference and the renewal of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority with such vigor towards the end of his term was that then Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told the administration such efforts had a good chance of success.

Olmert Acquitted Of Major Charges

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

JERUSALEM – A panel of three Jerusalem regional court judges acquitted former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert on Tuesday of all corruption charges in the Rishon Tours and Moshe Talansky matters. The judges, though, found him guilty of breach of trust in the Investment Center affair, which took place during Olmert’s tenure as minister of industry, trade and labor nearly a decade ago.

The state prosecutor had charged Olmert with fraud, breach of trust, falsifying corporate records, double billing, tax evasion and accepting bribes in the Rishon Tours and Talansky affairs nearly four years ago. During the course of the long legal battle, Talansky, a Long Island financier who co-founded the New Jerusalem Fund with Olmert, alleged in court that Olmert requested cash for various purposes. If the court had rendered a guilty verdict on the fraud charges, each charge would have carried a minimum jail term of three years. The breach of trust guilty verdict does not carry an automatic jail sentence, as the penalty is determined by judicial discretion.

Despite Olmert’s acquittals, the judges declared that the former prime minister’s former bureau chief, Shula Zaken, was guilty of two counts of fraud and breach of trust in the Rishon Tours case. Her conviction, which will almost certainly be challenged by her legal team, carries a minimum prison term of three years.

A cadre of legal experts and media commentators expressed surprise at the verdict on Olmert, especially in the Rishon Tours double-billing case whereby several witnesses maintained that both Olmert and Zaken were aware of double billing major Jewish organizations – and even orchestrated the action.

After the verdicts were handed down, the legal experts publicly questioned how Zaken, who was in constant daily contact with Olmert throughout most of his political career and updated him on all matters, could be found guilty while Olmert could emerge virtually unscathed.

Other legal pundits are arguing that Zaken is taking the fall for Olmert, despite the fact that she was allegedly offered immunity from prosecution had she turned state’s witness against her former boss. MK Dalia Itzik, a former political ally of Olmert’s during his tenure as prime minister and head of the Kadima Party, blasted State Attorney Moshe Lador. “This is one of the most severe legal earthquakes to ever hit Israel. It’s difficult to understand how supposedly rock-solid cases, which forced Olmert from office, collapsed. It’s absurd,” she said.

While expressing dismay with Zaken’s conviction, Olmert was ecstatic with his not guilty verdict on the corruption charges. “I knew I would be vindicated. There was no corruption or envelopes with money,” he told a horde of Israeli and foreign reporters at the Jerusalem courthouse. “This won’t be the last time you will be hearing from me.”

Olmert and Zaken’s legal battles, however, are far from over. Tuesday’s legal drama comes at the same time that Olmert, Zaken and former Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski are being accused by the state prosecution’s main witness, a controversial businessman with a checkered reputation, as being central players in the so-called Holyland Affair. The Holyland trial is expected to last several months, with a verdict not expected until either later this year or early next year.

Olmert Acquitted on Most Charges, Convicted on Breach of Trust

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has won a surprise victory on Tuesday morning, as a panel of three district court judges acquitted him of most of the counts against him, in four cases that were associated with his name. He was only convicted of breach of trust in the Investment Center affair.

This makes Olmert the first Israeli Prime Minister ever to be convicted of a criminal offense.

Sentencing will take place on September 5.

In the Rishon Tours affair Olmert and his former chief of staff Shula Zaken were accused of instituting a fraud scheme that allowed him to receive extra funding for official trips abroad, and apply the surplus funds to private family trips. Olmert was acquitted of the charge in this case, but Zaken has been convicted of fraud and of breach of trust.

“The evidence does not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was aware of the collection of excess funds and their use,” the judges ruled. “His overt behavior did not appear consistent with the method of deliberate fraud that is alleged in the indictment. The intent to finance private trips through surplus funds was not proven.”

The second indictment dealt with Talansky and the Investment Center affairs, which are, in effect, one and the same. Olmert was accused of breach of trust, for having received hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, sometimes in envelopes, from Morris Talansky, and in doing so deviated from the rules of etiquette as government minister. The cash was hidden in a safe belonging to attorney Uri Messer, then Olmert’s partner and close friend.

At the same time, the prosecution alleges that Olmert had a conflict of interests when he advocated for for Talansky’s business, and that when he was Minister of Industry he favored Messer’s clients, also in a serious conflict of interests.

In addition, Olmert was acquitted of defrauding and deceiving the State Comptroller regarding the value of his pen collection and money he received from businessman Joe Elmaliach.

Russia to Possess Historic Building in Heart of Jerusalem

Monday, June 25th, 2012

The transfer of one of Jerusalem’s most prime pieces of real estate to Russia will be finalized when the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) vacates its offices, following the completion of talks between Israel and Russia on Sunday.

In 2008, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert presented the Sergei building and its 9-acre courtyard with gardens and fishponds in the Russian Compound as a gift to the Russian government.  He made the gesture during a visit to Moscow to persuade President Dimitry Medvedev not to sell arms to Syria and to back sanctions against Iran.  The decision to transfer the property was made by the prime minister, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Finance Minister Roni Bar-On and Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann.

Last year, the Agriculture Ministry and the Society for Preservation of Israel Heritage Sites evacuated their offices in the compound.  SPNI issued a request to continue working in the offices, but was denied by the Russian government.

Israel gained control of approximately 90 percent of the Russian compound in 1964, paying the Russian government $3.5 million in citrus fruits for the property due to lack of hard currency – hence the dubbing of the agreement the “Orange Deal”.

The Sergei building, not included in the sale, was completed in 1890, and served as a hotel for Russian aristocrats, royalty, and dignitaries on pilgrimage to Jerusalem. It was named for brother of Tzar Alexander III, Grand Duke Sergei, then President of the Imperial Russian Orthodox Palestine Society.   The property had been purchased by Tzar Alexander II in 1860 from the Ottoman Empire.

When the plan to give possession of the property to Russia was announced in 2008, opponents protested the giving over of Jerusalem heritage sites to foreign entities, and warned that Russia was not a strong enough ally to trust with the property.  Then-candidate for Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat also disapproved of the plan, calling it a “dangerous precedent, giving property in the heart of Jerusalem to foreign interests.”

Russia has vowed to keep the area open to the public, and says it will restore the yard and buildings for use by Russian pilgrims visiting Jerusalem today.

The SPNI announcement comes just a day before Russian Premier Vladimir Putin’s Monday arrivalin Israel on an official state visit.  The leader is expected to meet with top Israeli officials to discuss Iran’s nuclear progress.  He will also dedicate a monument in Netanya to the valor of the Red Army in World War II.  The large stone monument consisting of a pair of white wings, an unprecedented joint-state venturebetween Israel and Russia, will also honor the more than half a million Jewish Red Army soldiers who fought in the war.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/russia-to-possess-historic-building-in-heart-of-jerusalem/2012/06/25/

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