Lawyers Ask State Prosecutor to Okay Plea Deal for ex-PM Olmert

Two weeks before Supreme Court hearing on appeal in the ‘cash envelopes’ case, lawyers have not received response to request for concurrent prison sentences and other dispensation in return for stopping legal proceedings on Olmert's behalf.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in the Supreme Court during deliberations on the Holyland case, on December 29, 2015.
Emil Salman

Eyal Rozvovsky, a lawyer for former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, has approached State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan in an effort to arrange a plea agreement that would address all of the criminal cases against Olmert. Nitzan has not yet responded to the request.

Rozovsky is apparently seeking to have the state withdraw its appeal of Olmert’s acquittal in the so-called Rishontours case, to close a pending case involving alleged witness-tampering, and to allow Olmert to serve prison sentences on his convictions in the "cash envelopes" and Holyland cases run concurrently, rather than one after the other.

In turn, the former premier's lawyers would agree to withdraw their appeal in the cash envelopes case, and to stop undertaking any other further legal proceedings on Olmert’s behalf.

The Holyand case involved payment by land developers of tens of millions of dollars in bribes to senior officials including Olmert in the Jerusalem Municipality and the Israel Lands Administration, to encourage development of the capital’s Holyland luxury housing project. In the cash envelopes affair, the prosecution proved that Olmert received more than $100,000 from American businessman Moshe Talansky; receipt of the cash was concealed for the most part by Olmert with the help of associates. The Rishontours case involved alleged double-billing of travel expenses.

Rozovsky’s request was made about a week before a Supreme Court hearing on the former prime minister's conviction in the cash envelopes case, in which an eight-month jail sentence was handed down. The Jerusalem District Court ordered that the sentence be served in addition to the year-and-a-half prison term Olmert received in the Holyland case.

About two weeks ago, the Supreme Court granted part of an appeal filed by Olmert in that case, acquitting him of receiving 500,000 shekels ($127,000) in bribes; these funds had been transferred from the late state’s witness, Shmuel Dechner, to the prime minister’s brother Yossi. The panel of five justices confirmed that the former prime minister had indeed received 60,000 shekels in bribes while serving as industry and trade minister, but reduced his overall jail sentence from six years to 18 months.

Olmert is scheduled to report to Maasiyahu prison in Ramle on Febuary 15 to begin serving his sentence.

The ex-premier's media adviser, Amir Dan, issued a statement confirming that the state prosecution was contacted “with regard to further proceedings” but that as of now, no response has been forthcoming. For its part, the prosecutor’s office said it does not comment on discussions with defense attorneys, and it also would not confirm that such contacts are being made with respect to Olmert’s cases.