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Palestinian Official Praises Israeli Rule of Law After Ex-PM Olmert Goes to Jail

JAFFA, Israel – A top Fatah official wrote on Facebook that the jailing of former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert attests to the strength of the rule of law in Israel.

“Today, Ehud Olmert became a prisoner after a court convicted him of corruption and abuse of power,” Former Palestinian Minister of Prisoners Affairs Sufian Abu Zaida wrote on his Facebook page. “He is joining former President Moshe Katzav, who was sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment for sex crimes.”

Olmert’s incarceration is “proof that in Israel there is complete equality before the law, judicial independence, and separation of powers,” he continued. “This is the rule of law everybody subscribes to. No personal connection or acquaintance came to their rescue, not a single person could save them from their punishment. This is why they are where they are, and we are where we are.”

Many of the comments to the post were positive, including one that sarcastically asked, “Here the judiciary also protects officials and their families, isn’t that what safeguarding the law means?”

Another said that Zaida “should stick to criticizing the occupation rather than praising it.”

“If the rule of law was applied here there wouldn’t be a single official walking free,” another said.

“That’s the reason why God allows them to win and become one of the most powerful and advanced countries in the world,” said another.

On Monday, Olmert became Israel’s first prime minister to serve jail time. He will spend 19 months in prison for corruption and bribery that occurred while he was Jerusalem’s mayor in the 1990s. Olmert was sentenced to a six-year term in 2014, but the Supreme Court reduced the sentence to 18 months in December. An extra month was tacked on last week for obstruction of justice.

The BBC reported:

In March 2014 [Olmert] was found guilty of accepting, while he was mayor of Jerusalem, a 500,000-shekel ($129,000; £89,000) bribe from developers of one real estate project and a 60,000-shekel bribe in connection with another.

On 10 February, the court rejected a key part of a plea bargain and added one month on to Olmert’s sentence after he admitted attempting to persuade his former secretary not to testify against him.

The Supreme Court has yet to rule on an appeal by Olmert against an eight-month prison sentence he was handed last year after being convicted of fraud and breach of trust for accepting illegal payments from an American businessman.

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