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Former Israeli Prime Minister Olmert Released From Prison

  • Associated Press

FILE - Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (center) leaves Tel Aviv District Court, May 13, 2014. Olmert was sentenced to six years in jail on Tuesday for taking bribes in a massive real estate deal.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was released from prison early Sunday, days after a parole board granted him early release from his 27-month corruption sentence.

Prison Service spokesman Assaf Librati said Olmert, 71, was whisked away by Israel’s security service after his release and driven home after serving 16 months.

He said the terms of Olmert’s early release stipulate that for the next few months the former prime minister has to do volunteer work, must appear before police twice a month and cannot give interviews to the media or leave the country.

He added that President Reuven Rivlin could relieve him of the parole restrictions.

Convicted of taking bribes

Olmert was convicted in 2014 in a wide-ranging case that accused him of accepting bribes to promote a real-estate project in Jerusalem and obstructing justice. The charges pertained to a period when he was mayor of Jerusalem and trade minister before he became premier in 2006.

His departure from office in 2009 ended the last major Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts and ushered in the era of Benjamin Netanyahu.

Conciliatory toward Palestinians

Olmert was a longtime fixture in Israel’s hawkish right wing when he began taking a dramatically more conciliatory line toward the Palestinians more than a decade ago. He played a leading role in Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005 and became prime minister in January 2006 after then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon suffered a debilitating stroke. He resigned amid a corruption scandal that clouded his administration.

Olmert has said he made unprecedented concessions to the Palestinians — including a near-total withdrawal from the West Bank and an offer to place Jerusalem’s Old City under international control — and was close to reaching an agreement at the time of his resignation.

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