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last updated June 25, 2009 5:48 PM (EST+7)
Ehud Olmert
Ehud Olmert was Prime Minister in the 17th Knesset (2006 - 2009). He was Tzipi Livni’s predecessor as leader of the Kadima party.

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Olmert was born in 1945 near Binyamina in the British Mandate of Palestine. He served in the Israeli military as a combat infantry unit officer. He suffered injuries to a leg and an arm and therefore continued his military service as a military correspondent for the military journal Bamachane. He holds a BA degree in psychology and philosophy, and a law degree from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He is a lawyer by profession and upon graduating started a law partnership in Jerusalem.

He became a member of Knesset in 1973 and served in the house; constitution; law and justice; state control; foreign affairs and defense; finance; education and culture; and internal affairs and environment committees.

From 1979 to 1982 he volunteered to serve in the Israeli military and completed an officers’ course. While serving as a member of Knesset (MK) he also volunteered for the reserve service in Lebanon. From 1988 to 1990 he served as minister without portfolio, responsible for minority affairs, and from 1990 to 1992 he was minister of health.

In November 1993, Olmert was elected Mayor of Jerusalem. In this role he advanced national infrastructure projects and called for the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. He resigned from the Knesset in 1998 and ran against Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for leadership of the Likud party. Sharon won the contest. Olmert was re-elected to the Knesset in 2003 and resigned from his position as mayor, after serving for two terms.

In February 2003, Sharon appointed Olmert as minister of industry, trade and labor, and minister of communications. He held his position as minister of communications until January 2005. In August 2005 he was appointed acting minister of finance, and in November 2005 he became minister of finance.

In January 2006, after Ariel Sharon suffered a stroke, Olmert was made acting prime minister, in accordance with the Israel’s Basic Law and in April 2006 he became interim prime minister. Olmert was viewed as one of Sharon’s closest allies, having supported him throughout the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and some settlements in the West Bank, and having sided Sharon during his November 2005 split from the Likud party to form Kadima.

After Kadima won the majority seats in the elections to the 17th Knesset, Olmert as the head of Kadima party became prime minister. On July 30, 2008 Olmert announced that he would not participate in Kadima’s September 2008 leadership elections and would resign from his post as prime minister immediately after the election had taken place.

Olmert’s political career suffered greatly after the publication of the Winograd Commission’s interim report which investigated his handling of the July 2006 war against Hezbollah in Lebanon. His political life has also been shadowed by allegations of financial mismanagement and corruption.
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