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JERUSALEM — Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was indicted Thursday on new corruption charges for allegedly seeking hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes in a wide-ranging real estate scandal that dwarfs the other cases in which he's accused.
Indicted For Corruption
According to the indictment, millions of dollars illegally changed hands to promote a series of real estate projects, including a controversial housing development in Jerusalem that required a radical change in zoning laws and earned the developers tax breaks and other benefits.
Jerusalem residents have long suspected that the hulking Holyland housing development, built on a prominent hilltop, was tainted by corruption. Thursday's indictment against Olmert – who was the city's mayor when the project ballooned – cemented those doubts about his integrity.
He is also suspected of influence-peddling in another, smaller real estate deal included in the indictment, which charges a total of 13 government officials, developers and other businesspeople in three separate schemes.
All the alleged crimes took place while Olmert was mayor of Jerusalem and minister of industry and trade, positions he held before becoming prime minister in 2006. Olmert has denied all the charges.
The indictment accuses Olmert of seeking money, through a middleman, from Holyland developers to help out his brother, Yossi, who fled Israel because of financial problems. According to the indictment, Yossi Olmert received about $100,000.
Olmert was born near Binyamina in the British Mandate of Palestine. According to Olmert, his parents, Bella and Mordechai escaped "persecution in Ukraine and Russia, and found sanctuary in Harbin, China. They emigrated to Israel to fulfill their dream of building a Jewish and democratic state living in peace in the land of our ancestors." His father later became a member of the Knesset for Herut.
Olmert's childhood included membership in the Beitar Youth Organization and dealing with the fact that his parents were often blacklisted and alienated due to their affiliation with the Jewish militia group the Irgun. They were also part of Herut, the opposition to the long-ruling Mapai party. However, by the 1970s this was proving less detrimental to one's career than during the 1950s.
Binyamina was founded in 1922 and named after the Baron Edmond Benjamin James de Rothschild. According to the Jewish National Fund, Binyamina was founded on PICA land by members of the Third Aliyah. The original economy of the village was citrus-based. In 1947, Binyamina had a population of 2000. 
Givat Ada, named for Baron Edmond James de Rothschild's 's wife Adelaid (Ada), was established in 1903 by eight families from Zichron Ya'akov. Givat Ada was established as an agricultural settlement. The main farming branches were field crops and vegetables, and later, grapes.
Palestine Jewish Colonization Association