Olmert to Resign as Israeli Prime Minister

Truthout (this came out today)

Scandal-dogged Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has announced that he will quit politics and resign as prime minister this fall rather than join a contest for the leadership of his own party.

The announcement comes with Mr. Olmert trailing badly in the polls and facing a widening corruption investigation that police have said could soon lead to an indictment. In resigning, Mr. Olmert lashed out at the “ceaseless attacks of righteous people” which he said had begun as soon as he took office in 2006.

Mr. Olmert’s withdrawal means that a Sept. 17 vote for the leadership of his centrist Kadima party will effectively be a two-person race between Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz. Since Kadima holds a plurality of seats in the Israeli parliament, the winner will get a chance to form the next government.

“I will not take part in the primaries of the Kadima party,” a drawn-looking Mr. Olmert told a hastily assembled news conference outside his official residence in Jerusalem. “When a new chairman is elected for the party, I will resign from my duties as prime minister to allow the chairman to create a new government.”

Read entire article…

From the BBC: Israeli PM to quit within months

Vowing to prove his innocence, he said that he would quit as leader of his Kadima party as soon as it elects a new leader on 17 September.

He will remain caretaker prime minister until a new government is formed.

Mr Olmert had been under pressure to resign over a police inquiry into money he received from a businessman.

The corruption inquiry centres around allegations that a US citizen, Morris Talansky, made election donations in cash to Mr Olmert in 2006, which may have subsequently been used to buy luxury items.

Israel defense chief: Military option still open (AP) (this came out yesterday)

Israel’s defense minister said Tuesday he has told top U.S. officials that Israel won’t rule out a military strike against Iran, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called Iran’s latest response to diplomatic overtures a disappointment.

Ehud Barak, a former Israeli prime minister, is in the middle of two days of meetings at the White House, Pentagon and State Department. He told reporters that he has said during those meetings that there is still time to pursue tough diplomacy with Iran. At the same time he has told the Americans that Iran poses a major threat to the whole world, and that for Israel “no option would be removed from the table.”

The United States also has not ruled out a military strike to stop Iran’s presumed drive for nuclear weapons, but an Israeli strike is considered more likely in the short term.

Barak would not say what advice he’s been getting from the Americans. More…

Olmert’s crimes (Haaretz.com) (Hmmm… and this comes out tomorrow..?)

The critics of Ehud Olmert on the right, including senior figures in his party, claim that the prime minister has turned negotiations with the Palestinians and Syrians into a shovel with which he seeks to dig himself out of the police investigations against him.

They say that to save his skin, Prime Minister Olmert would not hesitate to divide Jerusalem and to hand over the entire Golan Heights. Otherwise, why is he in such a rush to reach an agreement on borders with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas? How else is it possible to comprehend his sudden peace assault on Syria without linking it to the criminal investigations? More…

So does this mean that Olmert will bomb Iran and then leave? Or will the hardliners in Israel boot Olmert out of the way so their next Prime Minister choice can bomb Iran..

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