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Sunday, May 04, 2008

And then there were 64

Three MK's from the 'Pensioners' Party' - a single-interest party that attained seven seats in the last election because a poll the day before election day found that they would make the minimum to get anyone into the Knesset - bolted from their party and from Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert's coalition a day after new corruption allegations against Olmert have called his coalition's endurance into question. The three pensioners' bolting the coalition leaves him with 64 MK's out of 120. This is from the first link above:
Knesset Members Moshe Sharoni, Sarah Marom-Shalev and Elchanan Glazer of the Pensioners' Party announced that they would be leaving the party and the coalition led by Ehud Olmert. Glazer said Saturday that "in view of Prime Minister Olmert's investigations, the government's days are numbered, and an alternative approach to the coalition's needs to be presented." He said people in other factions are of a similar opinion.

Glazer said that he was offered the position of Deputy Minister for Pensioners' Affairs under Pensioners' Party head Rafi Eitan, but did not wish to impose a financial burden on the country and decided to refuse the offer.

While the defection of three MKs does not endanger Olmert's Knesset majority in and of itself, it is a crack in the coalition that some observers think may widen.

Sharoni's intention to split with the Pensioners has been a known fact for several months, following Sharoni's demotion from the position of faction chairman, after he sponsored a bill to raise senior citizens' pensions beyond what the government was willing to authorize.
They almost sound honest. That would be most unusual for Israeli MK's. But here's the most interesting part of all.
The breakaway Pensioners MKs will be forming a new faction which will be identified with billionaire Arcadi Gaydamak, who has formed a party called "Social Justice." The new faction will reportedly call itself "Pensioners' Justice" and the united party that will contend in the next elections may be called "Social Justice / Justice for the Pensioners."
That would certainly put them in the right wing camp.

Meanwhile, those who seem to know what's going on claim this latest investigation is the most severe yet of Olmert Pinocchio and that he cannot continue in office like this. Unfortunately, that's what they said about too many investigations (including the Winograd Commission and all of the other corruption investigations) before.

Senior law-enforcement officials said over the weekend that a new criminal investigation against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is so "severe" that he will have to leave his post.

But the Prime Minister's Office rejected this assertion, and the Attorney-General's Office said the possibility of suspending Olmert had not been discussed at all.

In the opposition, however, calls mounted on Olmert to step down pending the result of the mysterious probe, whose details have been barred for publication by a court gag order.

MK Silvan Shalom (Likud) said he was working to dissolve the Knesset when it opens its summer session in two weeks, saying "the government of Ehud Olmert has reached the end of its road."

In an unusually expedited procedure, Olmert was questioned under caution at his official residence by members of the National Fraud Unit for about 90 minutes on Friday morning over what police would only say were new suspicions against him.

A top law enforcement official was quoted by Channel 1 as saying on Friday that Olmert's tenure was now in danger due to the severity of the latest investigation. The official expressed doubts over Olmert's chances of staying on as prime minister.

But officials in the Prime Minister's Office said they were confident the new suspicions would prove to be unfounded, adding that Olmert "answered all questions put to him by investigators, as he had on all previous occasions."

A police spokesman poured cold water on a Channel 2 report aired Saturday night that claimed Olmert would be questioned again, noting that similar reports of impending questioning by police of the prime minister in the past had often turned out to be inaccurate.

"There is no change in the status of the investigation since Friday," the spokesman added. "In the meantime, investigators are working on the case."

Meanwhile, the Justice Ministry issued a statement on Friday saying that the police had questioned Olmert regarding allegations that had not been investigated until now.

Before Friday's interrogation, Olmert was already under investigation regarding allegations of corruption regarding four separate cases.

Publication of details of the new investigation are barred by a sweeping, court-imposed media blackout.
Now don't hold your breaths waiting for Olemrt to resign. We all know that the man has no morals or principles and no conscience. But if Silvan Shalom can convince some coalition MK's to do the right thing there might be something to discuss. And if that means that Shalom - who has fought bitterly with Bibi Netanyahu within the Likud - will wholeheartedly support Netanyahu's candidacy, then all the better.


At 9:21 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Ehud Olmert will never resign. The other parties are not yet ready for an election. And while there's no doubt he's corrupt, there are few honest people in Israeli politics. As it stands, the investigation is tantalizing but in the absence of definite proof of wrong-doing, it will go nowhere. Olmert's trump card is that if he goes, Kadima goes down with him and that's enough to make its MKs hesitant to remove him from office for just that reason alone.

At 9:48 AM, Blogger Findalis said...

It feels like the rats are abandoning the ship.

The average Israeli doesn't want Olmert, the government is plagued with scandal and corruption, and Olmert would never have been PM if Sharon hadn't had a stroke.

It is time for Olmert to step down.


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