Cultural Revolutions

Olmert's Troubles

Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has been in trouble many times in the course of his long and colorful political career.

As mayor of Jerusalem, he was suspected of accepting bribes in the “Greek-island affair” involving former premier Ariel Sharon and his son, Omri (who was eventually convicted and jailed for seven months); but the case against Olmert was closed in 2004 without charges.  In 2006, an inquiry was opened on the 1999 sale and lease-back of Olmert’s house in Jerusalem, which allegedly netted him some $330,000, leading to a criminal investigation a year later.  In January 2007, he was the subject of another inconclusive criminal investigation over accusations that, as finance minister in late 2005, he tried to help a close personal associate buy the state-owned Bank Leumi.  Last year, his political opponents accused him of improper business dealings and conflict of interest during his tenure as minister of trade and industry.

In all those cases, however, no smoking gun was revealed, leading Olmert to conclude somewhat smugly that he was “indestructible.”

The latest investigation involving Olmert is different.  It was opened in early May not in response to media reports or investigations by the state comptroller but as a result of information revealed during earlier probes.  According to an Israeli-police statement, “The investigation...

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