View Full Version : Israel's Olmert Formally Resigns Because Of Scandals

09-21-2008, 03:51 PM
Israel's Olmert formally resigns: TV


(Gold9472: You may have heard me say in the past with regards to the idea that if you critique Israel, you are being anti-semitic, "Judaism is a religion, and Israel is a country. If you critique Israel's Government, that doesn't mean you are critiquing Judaism. They have corrupt Government officials just like we do." Here is a perfect example of that.)

Agence France-Presse
Published: Sunday September 21, 2008

JERUSALEM — Israel's scandal-tainted Prime Minister Ehud Olmert resigned on Sunday, local television reported, setting the stage for more weeks of political turmoil as the horse-trading begins to form a new government.

Olmert submitted his resignation to President Shimon Peres, who now has a week to designate the party leader who will form the next government, the television said.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who replaced Olmert as head of the centrist Kadima party in a leadership vote on Wednesday, is hoping to become only the second woman prime minister in the nation's history.

"I have decided to end my functions as prime minister of the government of Israel," Olmert, who has been in power for 31 months, told a cabinet meeting earlier on Sunday.

"I hope that Tzipi Livni will succeed in forming a national government with the composition she wants," Olmert said. "I will help her with all my strength."

Olmert's move initiates what could be a months-long process to form a new government, casting a shadow over peace talks with the Palestinians and further denting hopes of a deal by the end of this year.

The 62-year-old, who is likely to stay on as interim premier, had said on July 30 that he would step down once his party chose a new leader to battle a swathe of corruption allegations. He has denied any wrongdoing.

Peres is expected to give Livni 42 days to form a government and prevent a snap general election, which opinion polls indicate would bring the right-wing Likud party to power.

However, Peres is due to travel to New York this week for the UN General Assembly, and it was unclear whether he would be able to set the legal process in motion before his departure by asking Livni to form a new government.

The Kadima leadership result confirmed Livni's meteoric rise to become the most powerful woman in Israel, and could now see her follow in the footsteps of Golda Meir, the country's first woman prime minister who served until 1974.

But the turmoil unleashed by the allegations dogging Olmert also threatens to derail US-backed peace talks with the Palestinians that were formally relaunched last November but have made little tangible progress since.

As foreign minister Livni has led the negotiations, which were revived with the stated goal of ending the decades-old conflict by the end of the year.

Both sides remain deeply divided on core issues, however, including final borders, Jewish settlements in the West Bank, the future status of Jerusalem and the fate of some 4.6 million Palestinian refugees.

The negotiations could complicate Livni's efforts to form a new coalition, with the ultra-Orthodox Shas Party -- a key partner in Olmert's administration -- vowing to quit the government if Jerusalem is even discussed.

"No one, not even Olmert, has any political or moral authority to push any controversial decisions right now," Shas Chairman Eli Yishai said, according to the Ynet news service.

The Palestinians want mostly Arab east Jerusalem, which Israel seized in the 1967 Six Day War, as the capital of their future state.

Israel, however, considers the entire city to be its "eternal, undivided" capital, a claim not recognised by the international community.

Meanwhile Labour party head Ehud Barak -- another key member of Olmert's coalition -- met Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu over the weekend, with local media speculating about an emerging anti-Livni alliance.

"In view of the political, financial and security challenges we face, what Israel needs now is a national emergency government," Barak, Israel's defence minister, said, according to Ynet.

Shortly after the meeting Deputy Defence Minister Matan Vilnai, considered close to Barak, told public radio that the Labour chief would demand either a coalition including Labour, Kadima, and Likud, or early elections.

Netanyahu -- a hawkish former prime minister -- wants the country to go to the polls as he is tipped as the likely winner, but Barak has not yet adopted a clear position.