Chief Palestinian negotiator: Olmert trial was 'political assassination'

Erkat's comments on the former prime minister are similar to Netanyahu's accusations that the cause for his indictments was his political activity.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat looks on during a news conference following his meeting with foreign diplomats, in Ramallah, West Bank January 30, 2019 (photo credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/REUTERS)
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat looks on during a news conference following his meeting with foreign diplomats, in Ramallah, West Bank January 30, 2019
(photo credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/REUTERS)
The criminal charges against former prime minister Ehud Olmert were a "political assassination," PLO Executive Committee secretary-general and chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said Monday evening.
"In November 2008, after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert exchanged maps with [Palestinian] President Mahmoud Abbas of two states on the 1967 borders with mutually agreed swaps of land in size and value, he was brought down by corruption charges," Erekat wrote on Twitter.
"Who is afraid of the two States solution on the 1967 borders? Who is putting Israelis and Palestinians in harm's way by introducing a plan of apartheid, settlements and annexation? Who is targeting every day those on both sides who stands [sic] tall for two states on [the basis of the] 1967 borders?"
Answering the hypothetical question as to whether “after Israel’s Agreements with the UAE and the Kingdom of Bahrain: Can there be Peace without the Palestinians?” Erekat wrote, “NO. Peace two states 1967 borders. Live and let live. Equal neighbors.”
Olmert was convicted of breach of trust in July 2012, and of bribery in 2014. In a 2015 retrial, Olmert was convicted of fraud, breach of trust and tax evasion for the Talansky case he was previously exonerated for in 2012.
Facing pressure from members of his coalition over his corruption investigations, Olmert resigned as prime minister before being officially indicted by the State Attorney’s Office.
According to Erekat, the charges that led to Olmert’s resignation were tied to his political activity, particularly his peace proposal to Abbas, nicknamed the “napkin map” by Al Jazeera.
According to Olmert’s 2008 proposal, Israel would annex Gush Etzion, the major settlements of Modi’in Illit, Betar Illit and Ma’aleh Adumim, the settlements around Ariel and those around Ma’aleh Shomron in the northwestern West Bank.

A Palestinian rendering of Olmert's "napkin map"A Palestinian rendering of Olmert's "napkin map"

The Palestinians would in turn receive portions of the Negev Desert west of Hebron, south of the West Bank, west of the Dead Sea and in the Gaza border communities.
The number of settlers to be included in Israeli territory was estimated to be around 413,000, with approximately 56,000 to be relocated. Olmert’s offer reportedly included portions of east Jerusalem around the Old City and north of the French Hill.
EREKAT'S COMMENTS about Olmert seem similar to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s various public accusations, claiming that the cause for his own indictments is a retaliation for his political activity.
In early September, N12's Amit Segal revealed documents reportedly showing cases of misconduct by Israel Police and the State Attorney's Office, including the alleged cover-up of a conflict of interest relating to the corruption investigations against Netanyahu.
According to Segal, Superintendent Avi Rutenberg, the investigator in Netanyahu's corruption Case 2000 on an alleged bribery offer by Yediot Aharonot publisher Noni Mozes, was having an affair with Mozes' sister, Judy Nir-Mozes, when he was nominated to lead the investigation.
The issue regarding the conflict of interest reportedly arose following allegations before Rutenberg's nomination. The officer reportedly denied the allegations, only for his wife to confirm the claims to police a year and a half later. According to Segal, Rutenberg was reprimanded and the case was then forwarded to the Police Investigations Department.
The PID reportedly said there was a sufficient evidential basis to investigate Rutenberg for obstruction of justice.
As the case was forwarded to the department parallel to police recommendation to indict Netanyahu, Nitzan and his deputy Shlomo Lemberger reportedly hindered the investigation. A document cited by Segal showed that Lemberger forbade the PID to investigate the conflict of interest, citing "obvious reasons."