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Israel's hawk-turned-dove ex-PM Ehud Olmert freed from jail

Israel's ex-prime minister Ehud Olmert has been released from prison after his term in a corruption case was reduced by a parole commission. As PM, Olmert had sought better ties with Palestine and initiated peace talks.

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Former Israeli PM released from prison

Assaf Librati, a spokesman for Olmert, confirmed the former premier's release from prison on Sunday. Under the terms of his release, the 71-year-old ex-prime minister cannot give interviews to the media, must do volunteer work and appear twice a month before police.

Olmert was convicted in 2014 for accepting bribes to promote a real-estate project in Jerusalem and obstructing justice.

The parole board said Thursday  that Olmert had been "punished for his deeds and paid a heavy price." The prosecutors decided not to challenge the ruling.

"The inmate underwent a significant rehabilitation process in prison and displays motivation to continue it," the board said.

"All this significantly diminishes the risk he will deviate again from honest practice."

The decision to reduce Olmert's 27-month prison term by a third came after the former PM was taken to hospital with heart complaints on June 20.

Despite his release, Olmert's legal problems aren't over as he faces new charges of trying to smuggle confidential information out of jail. Olmert's lawyers deny these accusations.

A pro-peace prime minister

Olmert, Israel's premier between 2006 and 2009, is the country's first former prime minister to have served the jail term.

During his tenure, Olmert took a reconciliatory line with Palestine. Before becoming prime minister in 2006, he had played an important role in Israel's withdrawal from Gaza in 2005.

Olmert warned Israel could become like apartheid South Africa if it continued to occupy Palestinian lands and expressed his readiness to relinquish control of parts of Jerusalem under a peace deal.

In 2009, he was replaced by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who opposes concessions for Palestinians.

shs/rc  (AP, AFP, dpa)

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A court in Israel has found former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert guilty of breach of trust # olmert13b # 10.07.2012 21 Uhr # Journal # englisch

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