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Daily Israel Report

Olmert to Announce Return to Politics, Sources Say

Former Prime Minister Olmert is set to announce that he is returning to political life, weeks after being given a light sentence.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 10/10/2012, 5:55 AM

Ehud Olmert
Ehud Olmert
Flash 90

Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is set to announce that he is returning to political life, sources close to him said on Tuesday, according to a Channel 10 News report.

The speculation came hours after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced his intention to disband the Knesset and hold new elections within three months. It remains unclear whether Olmert will re-join his old party, Kadima, or form a new party.

Channel 10 reported that Olmert has been under heavy pressure to return to political life, especially since the Court imposed a light sentence on him over his conviction of breach of trust. Olmert was fined less than $18,000 and was given a one-year suspended jail sentence.

The Court did not find that there was moral turpitude in Olmert’s actions, so there is no legal obstacle keeping him from running in the next election. At the same time, he still faces charges of bribery in the Holyland apartment project, re-zoned for construction when he was mayor of Jerusalem. That case is still being heard in court.

Last week sources close to Olmert said that the former Prime Minister was considering forming a new political party with former Kadima head Tzipi Livni and journalist turned politician Yair Lapid, who heads the Yesh Atid party.

It has been widely speculated that a new political party headed by Olmert and Livni could defeat Netanyahu’s Likud in the election. Polls have predicted that Kadima, now headed by former Chief of Staff Shaul Mofaz and currently the Knesset’s largest party, is headed for a downfall in the next election.

On the other hand, noted Channel 10, Livni is being pressured to join the Labor party headed by Shelly Yechimovich. The report said that if this happens, the Labor party could win up to 30 seats and form the next government. Livni herself has yet to decide what she will do, and may choose to run independently.