Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Olmert Out

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced today that he would resign after the Kadima primary set for September 17:
"Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Wednesday that he has decided not to contend in the Kadima primary election and would resign as soon as the new party leader was chosen, due to the criminal investigations that have embroiled him in recent months.

"'I have decided I won't run in the Kadima movement primaries, nor do I intend to intervene in the elections,' Olmert said in an official statement to the public from his official residence in Jerusalem on Wednesday evening.

"'When a new [Kadima party] chairman is chosen, I will resign as prime minister to permit them to put together a new government swiftly and effectively,' he added. The prime minister has been under official investigation in recent months over allegations of corruption in his former capacities as Jerusalem mayor and trade minister."

Olmert's likely successor as Kadima head is current Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, perhaps the country's most popular major politician. The coalition should remain stable in the short term, as none of the parties in it would benefit from elections, especially Labor. As prime minister Livni would almost certainly continue the direction of Olmert's diplomatic policy, though she would ultimately face the same problem he would have of trying to keep the coalition intact through a diplomatic accord with the Palestinians, and perhaps with Syria, as well.



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