Olmert submits resignation, but remains in power for now

Sunday, September 21, 2008 |  Israel Today Staff

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert delivered his official resignation to President Shimon Peres on Sunday evening, ending a short term at the nation's helm that was characterized by some of the worst financial scandals and security failures in Israel's short modern history.

Peres was scheduled to immediately begin the formality of meeting with Knesset faction heads to determine which Knesset member will be tasked with forming the next government. As the new leader of the ruling Kadima Party, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni was all but assured of being chosen.

But Livni's chances of successfully forming a new and stable ruling coalition are considered slim.

Both the opposition Likud Party and the coalition Labor Party are interested in new national elections, certain that they will win back parliament seats from a Kadima Party severely weakened by rampant corruption and the departure or downfall of its leading figures.

Smaller factions that will not fair so well in the next national election are more likely to join Livni, but not without conditions that could preclude the new Kadima leader's ability to bring them all around one cabinet table.

Livni has 28 days to form her government, with a possible 14-day extension. In the meantime, Olmert will remain head of a transition government. Far from being a "lame duck," Olmert intends to use his remaining weeks in office trying to conclude a hasty and ill-advised "peace" deal with the Palestinians.

If Livni fails to successfully form a new majority coalition, Olmert will remain prime minister until new national elections can be held early next year.

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