Today former Prime Minister Olmert was convicted over the Holy Land case in Jerusalem. The case was named “Holy Land” after the small beautiful hotel on a hill that once stood in the location in question. (The former hotel housed a well-known model of Second Temple Jerusalem). That area, towards the outskirts of Jerusalem, has since been turned into a massive housing development; a total eye-sore, and which any observer (including myself), wondered how that monstrosity could ever have been approved. Well, today a judge declared that the gargantuan eye-sore was built thanks to a massive scheme of bribing public officials– including the mayor of Jerusalem at that time– Ehud Olmert. His conviction on all charges was surprising, albeit expected. The verdict was a surprise because Olmert had skated on a series of previous charges, including a recent case in Jerusalem where the fact he received envelopes full of cash was not disputed. In that case, Olmert’s explanation was accepted by the judge. In this case the judge did not find any other explanation for the fact that he and his brother received money from representatives of the project contractors– other than them accepting bribes.
This was a sad, but proud day for Israel. The idea that a former Prime Minister was in fact guilty of accepting bribes, in return for decisions that were made against the public interest, in favor of those bribing, is sad. Furthermore, it’s even more sad to think we may have a President and Prime Minster serving concurrently for crimes they committed. At the same time, it is a proud day, evidenced by an Israel journalist tweeting earlier: “What other country could jail its Prime Minister and President without a revolution.”
Kerry has returned to Israel to try to salvage the current round of the peace talks. The immediate problem a result of our earlier agreement to release the worse of terrorists at this point in the negotiations. Naturally, Israelis are not happy to do so– especially since it seems that the Palestinians are being the most inflexible in the negotiations. On the other hand, we did agree to the prisoner release, and the last thing we want is to be the ones that become responsible for ending the negotiations. As I post this there are repeated rumors that the freeing of Jonathan Pollard may be part of any last minute deal. I certainly hope so.