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Former Israeli PM: no political aspirations following acquittals

07-12-2012 19:50 BJT

JERUSALEM, July 12 (Xinhua) -- Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Thursday denied media reports that he's returning to Israeli politics.

"I've learned about my plans from the newspapers. I wanted to reassure everybody that I have no intention to enter politics, I'm not involved in it nor do I plan to be. I'm busy with other things at the moment and I suggest not to drag my name into places I have no intention of being a part of," Olmert said during a Tel Aviv convention marking the six-year anniversary to the Second Lebanon War in 2006.

Local news outlets have reported that Olmert was contemplating his return to Israeli politics, following his acquittals from two concurrent corruption cases. These, along with other corruption allegations, forced him to resign in 2009.

In one of Thursday's reports in the Ha'aretz daily, Olmert was quoted telling his associate he was the only one who can lead the center bloc in the Knesset (parliament) to victory in the upcoming elections.

It was also said that Olmert plans to teams up with Yair Lapid, a political newcomer.

On Tuesday, the Jerusalem District Court acquitted him from two corruption trials, yet found him guilty on a third case.

Olmert was dismissed of the charges in the "Rishon Tours affair ", in which he was accused of fraudulently double billing public organization for speeches made on their behalf abroad.

However, the former leader was found guilty in the Investment Center case for improperly working to secure grants and tax breaks.

Olmert is still involved in legal procedures over the Holyland case, in which he is suspected of receiving bribes as former Jerusalem mayor, in return for expediting building permits for a luxury residential project.

His acquittal has shaken the Israeli political sphere, as rumors of his possible return to politics started to surface. The Israeli political system might be facing another round of parliamentary elections in the next few months.

In a poll supervised by Tel Aviv University's Camil Fuchs for Channel 10 TV, 22 percent of Israelis said they believe Olmert should return to political life, while 11 percent said they would vote for a party with his leadership.

The Jerusalem Post published Thursday that parliament members from Kadima encouraged him to return.

"There is no doubt that a major injustice was committed against one of Israel's best prime ministers," Kadima member Yoel Hasson told the Post. "The prosecution should re-evaluate itself after removing a prime minister from his post for no reason."

 

Editor:James |Source: Xinhua

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