Israeli media reports on Wednesday indicated that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was set to give the green light for early primary elections in his ruling Kadima Party, despite the fact that he is unlikely to be reselected as party leader.
Party officials told The Jerusalem Post that Olmert would not defy the wishes of his party, though he had earlier vowed to not step down without a fight.
Also likely influencing Olmert's decision was an upcoming parliamentary vote of no-confidence in his government that is at this point expected to pass, bringing about the dissolution of the Knesset and the downfall of the government. The no-confidence bill, which was submitted by opposition Likud lawmaker Silvan Shalom, is scheduled for its first reading next Wednesday. Already, 74 out of 120 Knesset members have said they will vote for the bill.
Kadima officials hope that by replacing Olmert with a candidate more acceptable to the coalition and public they can stave off early general elections, which polls show Likud will win by a healthy margin.