Olmert vows to cling to power

Tuesday, January 08, 2008 |  by Staff Writer

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Monday ruled out shortening his term even if the findings of the Winograd Commission due to be published later this month label him the primary cause of Israel's operational and strategic failures during the summer 2006 Lebanon war.

Olmert was quoted by The Jerusalem Post as saying in private conversations that he will resist efforts to initiate early elections or to replace him as prime minister with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni in the wake of the upcoming Winograd report.

Olmert's reaction came less than a day after Defense Minister Ehud Barak indicated he would pull his Labor Party out of the government if the commission finds the prime minister guilty of negligence and mismanagement during the war. Labor's exit would leave Olmert with a minority government, significantly increasing the chances of early elections.

In an effort to prevent Labor from joining the opposition and preserve the ruling coalition, senior members of Olmert's Kadima Party told Israel's Ynet news portal that they have started looking into the possibility of holding immediate party primaries to replace Olmert as party chairman. The leading candidates to take over the reins are Livni and Transportation Minister Sha'ul Mofaz.

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