Olmert government's fall appears imminent

Thursday, June 12, 2008 |  by Staff Writer

The fall of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's government appeared imminent Thursday as Defense Minister Ehud Barak said he would instruct his Labor Party to vote for the dissolution of the Knesset later this month.

Barak told Labor colleagues at a party meeting in Tel Aviv that "the way things look at the present time, we will support the motion for the dissolution of the Knesset on the June 25th preliminary vote."

A bill to dissolve the Knesset has been introduced by opposition Likud lawmaker Silvan Shalom. With Labor's backing, the bill would receive the votes of 74 of the Knesset's 120 members.

On Wednesday, Barak gave Olmert's Kadima Party an ultimatum to replace the prime minister immediately with someone more acceptable to Labor and the rest of the coalition, or face early general elections. Given Olmert's previous refusal to step down, Barak apparently believes his conditions will not be met.

If the bill to dissolve the Knesset passes, new general elections could be held as early as November.

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