Former prime minister Ehud Olmert met with his successor as Kadima leader, Tzipi
Livni, for more than an hour-and-a-half at an undisclosed location Wednesday in
order to discuss their possible joint political future.
Olmert and Livni
have improved their ties since she helped force him out of the Prime Minister’s
Office over corruption allegations.
Sources close to Olmert said he no
longer bears a grudge against her.
“In politics, you must put conflicts
behind you in order to succeed,” a source close to Olmert said. “They talked
about many different political constellations that can bring success. There is
no chance that one of them will run against the other. Either there will be
cooperation in one party or one or two of them will not run.”
to meet again next week after they each decide their political future on their
own. Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich said Wednesday that she would welcome Livni
to her party if she decided to come without Olmert.
“There is a good
chance [Olmert] will make the right decision [not to run],” Independence
chairman Ehud Barak said.
The likelihood of Olmert making a political
comeback ahead of the January 22 elections decreased following the State’s
Attorney’s Office’s decision Tuesday to appeal his exoneration in corruption
A dozen Kadima MKs wrote Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman Wednesday
urging him to remove State Prosecutor Moshe Lador from Olmert’s case, saying
Lador bore a personal grudge against the former prime minister.
slammed what he called a “new approach of running a case in the press and
blaming those behind it, in order to take over public opinion and instill
The Justice Ministry on Wednesday hit back at Olmert and his
public relations team, calling their public statements about the state’s intent
to appeal Olmert’s acquittals “destructive” and inappropriate “personal”
The state attorney informed Olmert’s lawyer, Eli Zohar, on
Tuesday night that it would be appealing Olmert’s acquittals and sentence in the
Jerusalem District Court corruption trial.
Once the news was public,
Olmert’s team lashed out at the state attorney’s decision, with one source
saying the decision was purely one of seeking “revenge” for generally having
lost the case.
Following the state’s telephone call to Zohar, the news
became public – according the Justice Ministry spokesman, due to the actions of
The source added, “Time after time, they got rid of him,
and now they’re trying again.”
“They won’t forgive him for being found
innocent. That’s what happens with the only body in Israel that does not have
oversight,” said the source.
Olmert spokesman Amir Dan, meanwhile, called
the decision “a personal and wicked witch hunt that was a waste of the public’s
Responding to these allegations, the Justice Ministry said that
Olmert’s public relations team “as usual presents a distorted view to the
public” both in regard to the contents of the court verdict regarding Olmert and
with respect to the “process of reaching decisions in the State Attorney’s
The state spokesman denied that any personal or non-legal
considerations played any role in the state’s decision.
decision was based on a careful and meticulous evaluation of the court’s verdict
by a range of top officials within the prosecutor’s office.
said there is no place in the public arena for the kinds of statements made by
Olmert’s team, and viewed the attacks on the state as grave and showing “a lack
As to the timing of the decision, which comes as
media reports have highlighted a possible political comeback by Olmert, the
state said that once it had reached a final decision, it believed it immediately
needed to notify Olmert’s attorney.
Meanwhile at Wednesday’s Likud
convention, former Kadima ministers Tzahi Hanegbi and Avi Dichter were welcomed
enthusiastically by the Likud central committee. But party activists reserved
their warmest welcome for retiring minister Moshe Kahlon. In his speech to the
crowd, Kahlon promised to remain the party’s loyal soldier. In interviews, he
denied that he had demanded the Finance Portfolio from Netanyahu as a condition
for staying in politics.
In an effort to replace Kahlon, party activists
suggested reserving realistic slots on the Likud list for Sephardi
The proposal did not pass.