Israel's Justice Minister Calls to Pardon Former PM Ehud Olmert

Ayeleyt Shaked's stance runs counter to the recommendation of the pardon department at her own ministry.

Ehud Olmert in Jerusalem Magistrate's Court in February 2016
Noam Moskowitz /' Walla News pool photo

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked informed President Reuven Rivlin that she thought it appropriate for Rivlin to consider former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's contribution to the country's defense when he weighs Olmert's request for a presidential pardon.

Olmert is serving a 27-month prison term following his conviction on charges of bribery and obstruction of justice in three corruption cases, the Talansky case, Hazera and the Holyland case.

Shaked told President Rivlin that she also thought he could consider the fact that Olmert, who went to jail in February of last year, had already served a substantial portion of his sentence.

Shaked's position is at variance with her own ministry's pardon department, which recommended that Rivlin turn Olmert down on his request. As president, Rivlin is the only person who can make the decision on the request, which Olmert filed in January.

Separately in three months, Olmert will be entitled to ask the parole board for a one-third reduction of his prison term. If accepted, he could be released, subject to restrictions, for the balance of the term that he would have served. If on the other hand, Rivlin grants his pardon request, the former prime minister would go free immediately and without restrictions.

The Talansky case centered around money that Olmert received from American Jewish businessman Morris Talansky while he was industry and trade minister. His conviction resulted in an eight-month prison term on fraud and breach of trust charges. In the Hazera case, which is related to the Holyland case, Olmert was sentence to 18 months in prison for receiving a bribe. In the Holyland case itself, he was convicted of obstruction of justice in a plea agreement that provided for a six-month prison term to be served concurrently with the other two sentences, meaning that in practice it would not extend his jail time.

The Holyland case, named for the complex of luxury apartments built in southwestern Jerusalem, involved bribes of various kinds paid to officials to increase the building rights in the complex for the developers’ benefit.