Blair Comes to Olmert's Aid at Former PM's Trial

State asks for 8-18 month prison sentence for Olmert over his role in the so-called Talansky affair; Blair says Olmert's 'efforts to bring peace should be admired.'

Emil Salman

The State Prosecutor’s Office asked on Tuesday that former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert be sentenced to 8-18 months in prison over his role in the so-called Talansky affair, in addition to the sentence he received in the Holyland case.

At the start of the sentencing hearing at the Jerusalem District Court, Olmert's attorney Eyal Rozovsky submitted two letters of support: One by former Mossad chief Meir Dagan, noting Olmert's leadership in security-related matters, and another by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, praising Olmert's effort to reach peace.

"During his time as Prime Minister," Blair wrote, "Ehud brought about an immensely positive attitude from European countries towards Israel's attempts to create peace. Ehud was a leader with a vision both of Israel's security and the need for a wider peace in the Middle East."

Olmert, according to Blair, "was a trusted leader that tried to solve problems, finding solutions in order to create a better reality and more opportunities. He was always willing to go above and beyond his duties, prepared to take risks, in order to achieve a better situation for Israel."

State Prosecutor Uri Korev cautioned of the effects Olmert's actions have had on Israeli society: "The public thinks, 'if everyone is corrupt, why shouldn't I be?'" Such effects, Korev added, edge Israel closer to "the slippery slope towards a Third World country."

In March, Olmert was convicted of fraud, breach of trust and illicit receipt of payments from U.S. businessman Morris Talansky from 1997-2005. Olmert was acquitted in 2012 on breach of trust charges in the case, but a retrial was ordered last year after a plea bargain with his former bureau chief, Shula Zaken, enabled the introduction of new evidence.

Reuters

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