Sources in Israel's Labor Party on Tuesday accused Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and US President George W. Bush of coordinating the timing of a proposed Middle East peace summit to extend Olmert's tenure amid increasing calls for his removal.
Bush announced his intention to convene an international gathering aimed at kick-starting Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in his Middle East policy speech on Monday.
The summit is likely to influence the Winograd Commission into Olmert's handling of last summer's Lebanon war to not be too hard on the prime minister in order to maintain political stability in Israel ahead of the summit. Labor officials told The Jerusalem Post that keeping Olmert in office was the true motivation behind Bush's proposal.
“Olmert might think that he can influence the public and his coalition partners with the summit, but he is not right,” said one party official.
New Labor leader Ehud Barak has threatened to pull his party out of the government in the near future, leaving Olmert with a minority coalition and significantly increasing the likelihood of early elections.