The State Attorney’s Office announced officially for the first time on Tuesday
night that it was appealing the acquittals of former prime minister Ehud Olmert
in the Jerusalem District Court corruption case to the Supreme
Ending almost three months of speculation since his acquittals in
July, the state notified the head of Olmert’s legal team, Eli Zohar, that it
would be appealing both the verdict and the sentence in the case.
decision could have tremendous repercussions on the upcoming elections, in which
Olmert has considered taking part as a challenger to Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu. The former prime minister was expected to make a decision about
whether to run by early next week, following meetings with former Kadima leader
Tzipi Livni on Wednesday and other key political figures.
and the team that worked with him when he was prime minister are against him
making a political comeback ahead of the January 22 election. His lawyers have
reportedly also advised him not to run.
Former minister Tzachi Hanegbi,
who has made two political comebacks following prolonged court cases, said that
if he were in Olmert’s shoes, he would return to politics.
“I think he
feels that his work for the public was artificially cut short, and that
frustrates him,” Hanegbi said.
“There is no legal reason not to come
back. He obviously feels he has a lot to contribute. We learned in the
IDF’s General Reconnaissance Unit that if your parachute doesn’t open, you have
to go back and jump again immediately to fix the situation rather than
If the state wins at the Supreme Court level, Olmert could be
convicted of harsher crimes than he was at trial, and still end up going to
Whether the state wins or not, appealing in the midst of election season, which
many will say influenced the state’s decision, could have a heavy impact on
Olmert’s decision about whether to run.
A source close to Olmert called
the State Attorney’s Office’s decision “revenge.”
“Time after time, they
got rid of him, and now they’re trying again,” the source said. “They won’t
forgive him for being found innocent. That’s what happens with the only
body in Israel that does not have oversight.”
Olmert’s spokesman Amir
Dan, meanwhile, called the decision “a personal and wicked witch hunt that was a
waste of the public’s funds.”
Legal analysts said the fundamentals in the
case point to the appeal ending in failure and Olmert merely reaping another
greater victory over the state.
The primary issues upon which the state
can appeal are issues of fact, and it is highly unlikely that the Supreme Court
will reverse a three-panel court – including the president and vice president of
the Jerusalem District Courts – on issues of fact, as opposed to issues of
Even as the state announced its intention to appeal, it is still
hesitating to announce what its grounds will be, or if it will appeal on all of
Olmert’s acquittals or only particular ones.
In one of the most
significant corruption trials in the country’s history, the court found Olmert
not guilty of wrongdoing in the Rishon Tours affair, the Talansky affair and
allegations regarding misleading the state comptroller, only finding him guilty
of a single charge in the Investment Center affair.
spanned events that allegedly took place during 2002-2006, first during Olmert’s
tenure as mayor of Jerusalem and later when he served as a government
The State Attorney’s Office is appealing the court’s decision
on the Talansky affair. It may appeal on the Rishon Tours scandal as well.