Police: Olmert Aide Funneled Him More Than NIS 1M in Bribes

Shula Zaken, who was arrested last week, allegedly took bribes in exchange for furthering Holyland project.

Ehud Olmert's former bureau chief, Police revealed on Sunday that Shula Zaken, is suspected of having passed along to the former prime minister more than NIS 1 million in bribes from land owners involved in the Holyland luxury housing development project in Jerusalem.

Shula Zaken
Tess Scheflan

According to the police request to transfer Zaken to house arrest, presented to a Rishon Letzion court, Zaken also received a bribe of 10,000 shekels and a painting worth 4,000-5,000 shekels.

Zaken is suspected of having functioned as an intermediary for bribe money destined for Olmert while he was mayor of Jerusalem and also during his tenure as Industry, Trade and Labor Minister. Olmert and Zaken are suspected of taking bribes in exchange for furthering development of the Holyland project.

Olmert served as Jerusalem mayor for two terms, from 1993 through 2003.

Zaken was arrested when she landed at Ben Gurion Airport last week as she returned from a vacation abroad. Investigators questioned Zaken over her alleged role in mediating bribes in the Holyland case.

On Sunday, Zaken was released to 10-days house arrest during which she is forbidden to leave the country or make contact with others involved in the case.

The Holyland site was originally intended for a hotel, but in 1999 the municipality allowed Hillel Charney to construct luxurious residential towers instead. In 2003, the Holyland company proposed a new plan for four residential towers - two with 67 housing units and two with 43.

Despite over 300 objections from Jerusalem residents filed with the Jerusalem planning committee, the plan was given the go-ahead in November 2005.