Ex-Prime Minister Olmert cleared of central corruption charges

After a historic trial, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has been convicted of a "breach of trust" and acquitted on two charges of corruption. Olmert was cleared of the central corruption charges including the Rishon Tours affair, in which he was accused of double-billing nonprofit organizations and using profits for personal trips, and the ...

AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images

After a historic trial, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has been convicted of a "breach of trust" and acquitted on two charges of corruption. Olmert was cleared of the central corruption charges including the Rishon Tours affair, in which he was accused of double-billing nonprofit organizations and using profits for personal trips, and the Talansky Affair, in which Olmert was charged with taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from a U.S. businessman. Olmert was found guilty of "procedural improprieties" in the Investment Center affair, granting illegal favors to a friend when he held the position of minister of industry, trade, and labor. Olmert resigned after three years as prime minister in 2009 due to pressure from the charges, at a time when he had been holding negotiations with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. He is the first Israeli prime minister to face charges severe enough to hold prison terms, and could receive up to five years in jail at his sentencing in September.

Syria

International envoy Kofi Annan met with Iranian officials after agreeing to a peace deal with President Bashar al-Assad. Annan said, "My presence here proves that I believe Iran can play a positive role and should therefore be a part of the solution." Russia is pushing for new talks in Moscow between world powers on Syria. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov stressed the desire to follow up on the June 30 meeting held in Geneva focused on saving Kofi Annan's six-point peace plan. However, Russia continues to insist that a negotiated plan cannot be contingent upon President Bashar al-Assad's removal from power. In contrast, the main opposition group, the Syrian National Council, emphasized that there could be no transition without the fall of Assad. Venezuela has additionally propped up the regime by supplying Syria with oil and helping Assad to evade sanctions. Meanwhile, fighting was reported in Deir al-Zour, Deraa, Homs, Aleppo, and Damascus. Three people were killed in Lebanon in the second deadly attack in three days as the conflict continues to spill across the border.

After a historic trial, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has been convicted of a "breach of trust" and acquitted on two charges of corruption. Olmert was cleared of the central corruption charges including the Rishon Tours affair, in which he was accused of double-billing nonprofit organizations and using profits for personal trips, and the Talansky Affair, in which Olmert was charged with taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from a U.S. businessman. Olmert was found guilty of "procedural improprieties" in the Investment Center affair, granting illegal favors to a friend when he held the position of minister of industry, trade, and labor. Olmert resigned after three years as prime minister in 2009 due to pressure from the charges, at a time when he had been holding negotiations with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. He is the first Israeli prime minister to face charges severe enough to hold prison terms, and could receive up to five years in jail at his sentencing in September.

Syria

International envoy Kofi Annan met with Iranian officials after agreeing to a peace deal with President Bashar al-Assad. Annan said, "My presence here proves that I believe Iran can play a positive role and should therefore be a part of the solution." Russia is pushing for new talks in Moscow between world powers on Syria. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov stressed the desire to follow up on the June 30 meeting held in Geneva focused on saving Kofi Annan’s six-point peace plan. However, Russia continues to insist that a negotiated plan cannot be contingent upon President Bashar al-Assad’s removal from power. In contrast, the main opposition group, the Syrian National Council, emphasized that there could be no transition without the fall of Assad. Venezuela has additionally propped up the regime by supplying Syria with oil and helping Assad to evade sanctions. Meanwhile, fighting was reported in Deir al-Zour, Deraa, Homs, Aleppo, and Damascus. Three people were killed in Lebanon in the second deadly attack in three days as the conflict continues to spill across the border.

Headlines  

Arguments & Analysis

Syria’s deadlock can be broken only by an arms embargo‘ (Jonathan Steele, The Guardian)

"The priority is an arms embargo. Russia should urge Assad to withdraw his heavy weaponry from cities and release detainees if the opposition also halts its attacks. Moscow must make it clear that Russian military supplies will cease if he does not comply. Iran should make similar commitments. In order to press the rebels to compromise, the west should publicly rule out military intervention under any circumstance and urge Qatar and Saudi Arabia to stop funding the arms race."

Libya’s Election‘ (The New York Times)          

"The election is a huge step away from the Qaddafi nightmare. But the grievances of that time – unspeakable cruelties, disenfranchisement and mistrust of government – are still fresh. To get beyond that, it will take enlightened political leaders committed to tolerance, rule of law, accountability and fair representation of all Libyans. On Sunday, Mr. Jibril offered to form a grand coalition with all political forces in Libya – a potentially encouraging sign of inclusiveness."

A multi-polar cold war at the expense of Syrians‘ (Salam Al-Kawakbi, OpenDemocracy)

"Syrians didn’t protest as a result of a universal conspiracy, but they are protesting their political conditions first and their economic ones second.  Syrians are fully aware that the external stances with regards to their revolution will not be the most crucial ones for them.  Through their protests during this period, Syrians have proved capable of building a new awareness, using their creative energies.  The external factor is important but it is not the foundation-stone.  And all the regional and international attention does not indicate any real interest in backing ethical principles but simply reflects an intersection of interests. Conspiracy theory will remain alive in the imagination of Syrian officials for the time being, and one fears that it may extend itself to controlling the people’s imagination if Syrians continue to struggle alone in freedom squares without any real humanitarian support."

–By Jennifer Parker and Mary Casey 

<p>Mary Casey-Baker is the editor of Foreign Policy’s Middle East Daily Brief, as well as the assistant director of public affairs at the Project on Middle East Political Science and assistant editor of The Monkey Cage blog for the Washington Post. </p> Twitter: @casey_mary

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