JERUSALEM (JWN and agencies)–Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and 17 others were indicted on Thursday for allegedly giving or receiving bribes in connection with the construction of the capital’s massive Holyland housing estate. The indictments were the culmination of nearly two years of investigation.
Two other prominent names among those indicted are former Jerusalem mayor Uri Lupolianski and former Israel Lands Administration director Yaakov Efrati. Like Olmert, both are suspected of bribery in connection with the Holyland project. During this period Olmert was first mayor of Jerusalem and later the cabinet minister in charge of the ILA.
A state’s witness, who served as middleman for the bribes, testified that “in talks I held with Mayor Olmert, with chairman of the local planning and building committee Lupolianski and with members of the local committee, it was made clear to me that via the ‘give and take’ method, I could get [the benefits] I desired … I want to stress: The hints were from those people to me, not the reverse, because I wouldn’t have dared.”
In return for such consideration, the developers were given huge tax breaks, additional building rights, and other payoffs worth tens of millions of shekels.