Olmert, Ehud

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Olmert, Ehud

Ehud Olmert (ā´khōōd ōl´mârt), 1945–, Israeli politician. After serving in the army and working as a lawyer, he won election to the Knesset in 1973 as a Likud candidate. Under Prime Minister Shamir he was minister without portfolio (1988–90) and minister of health (1990–92). Olmert was elected mayor of Jerusalem in 1993, resigned from the Knesset in 1998, and unsuccessfully challenged Ariel Sharon for the Likud party leadership in 1999. Subsequently a close Sharon ally, Olmert ended a decade as mayor to return to the Knesset and serve under Prime Minister Sharon as deputy prime minister (2003–6) and minister of trade, industry, and labor (2003–6) and finance (2005–6). Olmert supported Sharon's founding of the centrist Kadima party in 2005, and when Sharon suffered an incapacitating stroke in Jan., 2006, Olmert became acting prime minister. Olmert led Kadima to a plurality in the Mar., 2006, elections and became prime minister the next month. His government was weakened by its largely unsuccessful 2006 invasion of Lebanon, and an independent report was critical of his handling of it. Further weakened by an investigation in 2008 into his alleged acceptance of bribes, he resigned as Kadima leader in Sept., 2008. In 2012 he was convicted of illegally granting favors but cleared of corruption charges, but in 2015 he was convicted of fraud after a retrial. He also was convicted in 2014 on corruption charges relating to a Jerusalem development.

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