Olmert won't run for Kadima leadership (liveblog)Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert is about to announce that he will not run in the Kadima party primary to be held in September. He will remain Prime Minister until he is replaced by new elections or if there is a no confidence vote against his government and someone else (most likely the winner of the Kadima primary) succeeds in forming a new government.
UPDATE 8:03 PM
Olmert will read a written notice but will not take questions from the media. He is speaking at his official residence.
Summary of statement:
Olmert's complaining that people attempted to frustrate his policies from the day he entered office. No kidding.
The North is quiet and not under immediate threat (he's got to be kidding). He corrected mistakes. He's proud of what he did. The economy is stable. Struggle against poverty intensified. Education improved. Attention paid to young children. Unemployment declined.
He continues to believe in his heart that reaching peace, stopping terror and having a different relationship with our neighbors the most important thing. Bush's support a great help. On the day when peace happens we will all be amazed we didn't reach it sooner. As long as he's in office, he will continue to try to bring the negotiations to a successful conclusion (oy!).
He has ultimate responsibility for decisions. He has great people in government. Never tried to take credit for them. The entire time he had to protect himself against leaks from people who tried to depose him from office - the end justifies the means. This has grown out of proportion.
He made mistakes during his career and he is sorry for them. But the picture in front of the public is not real. He has elementary right to presumption of innocence and he should not have to seek it by force. He understands that police and prosecution have to do their job and he's not above the law but not below it either.
It's a challenge to serve the country. No investigator has the right to determine whether he can continue to serve in office. Voters make those decisions in democratic countries, but not here anymore. So he has to do the personal accounting for all of us. Maybe today with his personal decision he is opening a window to a better reality. He has full and satisfactory answers to all of the accusations against him. Those who lecture him will have to face the truth one day. They know it well. Now the time has come for him to make a decision. He is not making the decision because he cannot fulfill his job and he believes he is innocent. But the charges against him come from people who are fair and honest and he cannot avoid it. His personal justice is less important than the public good and the pain to his family bothers him greatly. The public good is decisive.
He will not be a candidate in the Kadima primaries and will not interfere with them. He will accept their results. He is saying only a little of what he's had in mind for months. When there is a new head of Kadima he will resign from office so that the new head can form a new government. We have a great country. He loves it. He is deeply grateful for the privilege he has been given to act on our behalf.
UPDATE 8:48 PM
In summary, Olmert said he would resign as soon as the Kadima primary elects a new leader and that person forms a government. The Kadima election would be in late September. But if that person cannot form a new government, we would go to new elections. Olmert could remain Prime Minister until the new elections. That could be December or January - enough time to do a lot of damage or to attack Iran. Or to give the Golan to Syria in exchange for talking to him directly.
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who is currently in the US, said that Olmert should have reached the same conclusion six months ago (I would have said two years ago) and that Olmert's term in office has been 'a farce.'
By the way, the reason Olmert addressed the nation tonight is that Livni, her main Kadima rival (Transportation Minister) Shaul Mofaz, and Defense Minister and Labor Party leader Ehud Barak are all in the United States right now.
UPDATE 10:02 PM
The JPost updates on how long Olmert could actually remain in office.
Kadima's election committee decided on Tuesday to set an August 24 deadline to join the race, which it scheduled for September 17 [and if there's a runoff it will be September 25. CiJ].Olmert could be Prime Minister until March.
The winner in the Kadima primary will have until October 26 to submit his new government for approval by President Shimon Peres.
In case the elected leader fails, the president customarily grants another 90 days to form a government [I would not be surprised to see a breach of custom here. CiJ]; after the 90 days are through, in case no coalition is formed, a general election is scheduled, thus potentially allowing Olmert to remain in power until March 2009.
After the primary Olmert will remain in office as prime minister of a transitional government, until his successor in Kadima manages to forge a new coalition or until general elections are held.