Ayalon: PM will survive 2008
By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
September 17, 2007 23:43
1 minute read.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will remain prime minister through 2008 and elections will not be held until the following year at the earliest, sources close to incoming Minister-Without-Portfolio Ami Ayalon said Monday.
Ayalon, who called upon Olmert to resign following the release of the interim Winograd Report in April, changed his tune about the prime minister. Sources close to him said he would not have agreed to join the government had he not thought he would remain in office for an extended period of time.
"I will remain a minister as long as Labor remains in the government," Ayalon told The Jerusalem Post. "The government of Ehud Olmert understands the diplomatic opportunity that has arisen and is acting correctly."
Labor sources noted that party chairman Ehud Barak's forecasts about the government's longevity have changed over time.
During the campaign, he promised that he would remove Labor from the government ahead of the release of the final Winograd Report, then he told Labor officials he thought the election would be in May 2008 and lately he has spoken about elections at the end of next year.
Labor officials said the Supreme Court's decision to require a lengthy legal procedure ahead of the release of the Winograd Report would likely delay the party's departure from the coalition.
Army Radio broadcast a tape of Ayalon on Sunday calling for Olmert's resignation four months ago.
"Mister prime minister, you have to resign, because you don't have the strength or the respect of the public to rehabilitate a divided public," Ayalon said on the tape
Asked on the radio station how he could join the government after making such a statement, Ayalon said that circumstances had changed on diplomatic and security issues.
"In politics, changing views is understandable," Ayalon said. "I needed to ask myself whether I should be in the opposition in the Knesset or where the decisions are made. I decided that I wanted to be where the decisions are made and when the opportunity arose, I couldn't turn it down."
In veiled criticism of Barak's policy of not speaking to the press, Ayalon said he would not remain silent even if doing so would help him avoid contradicting himself in the future.
Ayalon will chair the ministerial committee in charge of preparing the home front for the possibility of future attacks. He will replace Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon as one of Labor's representatives in Olmert's security cabinet.