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Ehud Olmert

Ehud OlmertEhud Olmert was born near Binyamina in the British Mandate of Palestine, Olmert is a graduate of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem with degrees in psychology, philosophy and law.

According to Olmert, his parents, Bella and Mordechai escaped “persecution in Ukraine and Russia and found sanctuary in Harbin, China. They emigrated to Israel to fulfill their dream of building a Jewish and democratic state living in peace in the land of our ancestors.” His father later became a member of the Knesset for Herut. Olmert’s childhood included membership in the Beitar Youth Organization and dealing with the fact that his parents were often blacklisted and alienated due to their affiliation with the Jewish militia group the Irgun. They were also part of Herut, the opposition to the long-ruling Mapai party. However, by the 1970s this was proving less detrimental to one’s career than during the 1950s, and Olmert succeeded in opening a successful law partnership in Jerusalem.

Olmert served with the Israel Defense Forces in the Golani combat brigade. While in service he was injured and temporarily released. He underwent many treatments, and later completed his military duties as a journalist for the IDF magazine BaMahane. During the Yom Kippur War he joined the headquarters of Ariel Sharon as a military correspondent. Already a member of the Knesset, he decided to go through an officer’s course in 1980 at the age of 35.

Ehud Olmert is an Israeli political figure, and former Prime Minister of Israel having served from 2006 to 2009. Olmert was the mayor of Jerusalem from 1993 to 2003. In 2003 he was elected to the Knesset and became a minister and Acting Prime Minister in the government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Olmert and his government enjoyed healthy relations with the Fatah-led Palestinian National Authority, which culminated in November 2007 at the Annapolis Conference. During his tenure as Prime Minister, there were major military conflicts with both Hezbollah and Hamas (predominately in the Gaza Strip). Olmert and Minister of Defense Amir Peretz were heavily criticized for their handling of the 2006 Lebanon War. In late 2008, a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel ended, which led to the 2008–2009 Israel–Gaza conflict. Olmert declared that the Israeli Defense Force would target the Hamas leadership and infrastructure in the war.

Throughout his premiership, Olmert was accused of corruption. Facing a challenge for the leadership of Kadima from Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, on 30 July 2008, Olmert announced that he would not seek re-election as party leader and that he would resign from his position as Prime Minister immediately after a new Kadima leader was named. Livni won the contest and sought to form a new government in September of that year.

On August 30, 2009 an indictment against former prime minister Ehud Olmert was served at the Jerusalem District Court. The indictment includes the following counts: obtaining by fraud under aggravating circumstances, fraud, breach of trust, falsifying corporate documents and tax evasion. The indictment refers to three out of the four corruption-related cases standing against him: ‘Rishontours’, ‘talansky’ (Also known as ‘Money envelopes’ affair) and the ‘Investment Center’.

Olmert’s wife, Aliza, is a writer of novels and theater plays, as well as an artist. Aliza is more left-leaning in her politics than her husband. She claimed to have voted for him for the first time in 2006.

The couple has four biological children and an adopted daughter. The oldest daughter, Michal, holds a Masters in psychology and leads workshops in creative thinking. Their daughter Dana is a lecturer in literature at the Tel Aviv University, and the editor of a literature series. She is a lesbian, and lives with her partner in Tel Aviv. Her parents are accepting of her sexual orientation and partner. Dana is active in the Jerusalem branch of the Israeli human rights organization Machsom Watch. In June 2006 she attended a march in Tel Aviv protesting alleged Israeli complicity in the Gaza beach blast, which made her the subject of bitter criticism from right wing personalities.

Their son Shaul Olmert married an Israeli artist, and lives in New York. He is currently a Vice President at Nickelodeon. After Shaul had finished his military service, he signed a petition of the Israeli left-wing organization Yesh Gvul. He later became the spokesman of Beitar Jerusalem, his father’s favorite soccer team. This team is often associated with the Israeli right. Olmert’s younger son Ariel, who did not serve in the IDF, studies French literature at the Sorbonne in Paris. Shuli is their adopted daughter, she was orphaned from her mother at birth.

In October 2007, Olmert announced that he had prostate cancer. His doctors declared it to be a minor risk. In April 2009, Olmert’s spokesman issued a statement indicating that Olmert’s cancer had deteriorated.

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