Olmert says he wishes Netanyahu a 'swift and proper' exit from office

Former prime minister served 16 months in prison in prison after being found guilty of corruption, fraud, bribery and obstruction of justice.

February 7, 2018 20:33
2 minute read.
FORMER PRIME MINISTER Ehud Olmert waits for the judges at the Supreme Court in 2015

FORMER PRIME MINISTER Ehud Olmert waits for the judges at the Supreme Court in 2015. (photo credit: GALI TIBBON POOL/REUTERS)


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Former prime minister Ehud Olmert, in his first public appearance since his release from prison, said he wishes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a dignified exit from politics and that it couldn't come soon enough.

“I wish Prime Minister Netanyahu a swift and proper exit from politics," Olmert said during a conference on Wednesday marking four years since the death of prime minister Ariel Sharon. 

Asked if he was in touch with his former political rival, Olmert said that they had once been close {the two were in the same party until Olmert left Likud) but that he hadn't heard from him since 2009. "I occasionally hear from him about my family," Olmert remarked snidely, referring to Netanyahu's frequent comparisons between the media's treatment of Olmert's family and the supposed ill-treatment of his own.

Olmert also commented on the Shalit deal in 2011 in which over 1,000 terrorists were released for the return of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

“I would have refused to have made a deal like the one that took place – 1,100 terrorists were released, and many have committed atrocities. This has created a danger for the reservists. The problem is we forgot about our lives because of how we all felt about Gilad. This is something I could not let happen.”

Olmert served 16 months in prison after being found guilty of corruption, fraud, bribery and obstruction of justice. His sentence was shortened by one third by the parole board, despite allegations that Olmert leaked classified documents.

A lawyer by training, Olmert began his political career in the 1970s as a right-wing Likud lawmaker who targeted organized crime. As prime minister, Olmert waged war against Hezbollah in the Second Lebanon War in July and August 2006, and against Hamas in the Gaza Strip in Operation Cast Lead in December 2008 and January 2009.

While in prison Olmert wrote a 1,000-page memoir addressing the allegations of corruption and leaked documents, a topic he also chose to address on Wednesday.

“I do not intend to hide my thoughts – not on what happened, not on what will happen, nor on what is currently happening, and it will all be published soon in my book.... I’m not sure that the culture of discourse acceptable in Israel will allow my thoughts to be accepted, but they will be understood,” he said, referring to his long-touted upcoming book, which launched probes into whether the former leader leaked classified documents during the course of its writing.

Eliyahu Kamisher contributed to this article.

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