Olmert government in trouble as Labor ousts leader

Tuesday, May 29, 2007 |  by Staff Writer

Israel's Labor Party on Monday ousted its current chairman, Amir Peretz, increasing the likelihood that the leftist faction will soon pull out of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's government coalition.

The much anticipated primary vote ended Peretz's term at the helm, but failed to provide Labor with a new leader. Both of the frontrunners in the six-man race - former prime minister Ehud Barak and ex-security chief Ami Ayalon - failed to garner 40 percent of the vote, meaning a run-off must be held next month.

Regardless of who ultimately emerges victorious, the days of Olmert's government are believed to be numbered. Both Barak and Ayalon have threatened to immediately pull Labor out of the coalition, leaving Olmert with a minority government.

Labor Party leaders, excluding Peretz, have been some of the more vocal lawmakers calling for Olmert's resignation in the wake of a damning investigation into the government's handling of last summer's war in Lebanon.

If the government falls and early elections are held, opinion polls indicate that the right-wing Likud Party and its leader, Binyamin Netanyahu, will assume power.

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