Former President Moshe Katsav offers To Mentor Ehud Olmert As Prisoner

Former president Moshe Katsav told confidants he spoke with on Monday that he wants to mentor former prime minister Ehud Olmert while they are both at Ma’asiyahu Prison in Ramle, Channel 2 reported.

Katsav began serving a seven-year prison sentence for rape in December 2011, which means he is supposed to be released only in December 2018. If a third of his sentence is removed for good behavior, he will leave in the summer, but it is possible that it will not be granted because he has not expressed remorse.

“He said he felt pain and suffering about what Olmert is going through,” a source close to Katsav who spoke to him Monday was quoted as saying.

Olmert’s confidants remained silent Monday, and only three MKs spoke about the former prime minister entering prison.

“We as public representatives and leaders are obligated to maintain the law and have ethics and clean hands,” opposition leader Isaac Herzog said. “This is a difficult day because the people don’t want to see their leaders go to prison.

We must remember at all times that the pillar of fire that stands before us is justice and the rule of law. Personally, as someone who served as a minister in Olmert’s government, I feel pain, and I hope that the entire political system will learn its lesson, so such incidents will never occur again.”

Herzog’s Zionist Union colleague, MK Tzipi Livni, said Olmert’s entry into prison sends an important message to every Israeli politician.

“I worked with Olmert and made important security decisions with him,” she said. “His entering prison is an important day for democracy and the rule of law in Israel. This is part of the cleansing process that Israeli politics is going through.”

Zionist Union MK Stav Shaffir spoke about Olmert at the start of a Knesset forum on corruption she chaired that hosted Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein.

“A prime minister of Israel entering prison today after he was convicted of crimes involving corruption is an embarrassment for the country,” she said. “But it is also a day that symbolizes the strength of our democracy and another step in the struggle against corruption. Many episodes of corruption could have been avoided had rules for public servants been clearer.”

Former MK Ya’acov Katz of the now defunct right-wing National Union party, said Olmert entering prison was sad for the Jewish people.

He said he preferred to remember Olmert for fundraising dinners in America they organized together that raised money for Beit El and not for his role in the evacuation of Gush Katif and the Amona outpost and his willingness to relinquish 100 percent of Judea and Samaria with land swaps and internationalize Jerusalem’s Old City.

“Olmert didn’t see a problem with evacuating 400,000 Jews just like he didn’t see a problem with accepting money from rich Jews in envelopes,” Katz said. “I understand why he fell so low, but I do not understand why before that, he rose so high.”

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  1. Joe Levin
    Joe Levin says:

    For nearly two decades Ehud Olmert lived and worked in the upper echelons of Israeli public life – including three years as Prime Minister. On Monday, he joined a different VIP section of sorts, when he began serving his 19-month prison term in a special segregated section of Maasiyahu Prison.

    At the moment Olmert entered the prison, his security became the responsibility of the Prison Service, as opposed to the Shin Bet Israel Security Agency which provided his security from the moment he became Prime Minister in 2006.

    In his first days in Block 10 of Maasiyahu Prison Olmert will be provided with a prison guard whose job is to protect the former PM from harming himself and assisting him in his transition to his new life as a prisoner.

    Block 10 is a special unit of Maasiyahu meant to house convicts who require an extra level of security. The block was renovated over the past 6 years at a cost of NIS 4 million, and includes six cells, each containing three beds, a shower, bathroom, closet, table, chairs and a television. There are currently only 4 people in the cell other than Olmert, and it has a maximum capacity of 18. The block also has a mess hall, sports equipment, an outdoor area, a public phone, a room for meetings with lawyers and one for visits by loved ones, as well as a room that serves as a synagogue.

    Maasiyahu is Israel’s largest prison for solely criminal, non-security prisoners. It houses some 1,190 inmates and has famously housed a number of former politicians including Shas MK Shlomo Benizri and party head and Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, and most famously, ex-president Moshe Katsav.

    He will be allowed to wear civilian clothes while on the cellblock.

    Olmert will be able to have up to NIS 1,500 shekels in his commissary, which he can use at a prison minimarket which is open twice a month.

    He will have the right to issue appeals to court and meet with his attorneys on weekends and will be allowed the same 30 minute visits as allowed by the commander of Maasiyahu.

    Most inmates – depending on the level of danger they pose to society – can be eligible for furloughs after they have served a quarter of their time, provided the sentence is more than a year.

    Perhaps the most difficult adjustment for Olmert will be the fact that his daily regimen will now be determined by the system, and not by him.

    Whether or not he’s a morning person he’ll have to get up for breakfast by 7am, and then by 7:30 take part in morning chores on the cellblock. At 10:30 he’ll have the morning head count, and then he’ll eat lunch when lunch is served, at noon.

    In the afternoon there’s another head count, followed by chores, and an early dinner between 5 and 6pm, followed by activities, and then the nightly headcount and lights out.

    According to the philosophy of the Israel Prison Service, detention is meant to be punishment for the convict, but not vengeance or humiliation. The inmate is supposed to lose their freedom without losing their dignity.

    Though he is serving a relatively short sentence and will most likely be safe from harm at the hands of other prisoners, the transition should be difficult for Olmert. No matter how humane the conditions, he is a human being losing his freedom, and nothing can compare to the sensation of hearing the heavy metal door of the prison cell close for the first time.

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