Prime Minister Ehud Olmert declared Sunday evening that his Kadima party would continue to lead Israel for the next few years, and that he would remain prime minister. Olmert spoke during a meeting with Kadima leaders at his Jerusalem home, Israel Radio reported. "[Defense Minister Ehud] Barak says he'll run against [Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu ], and Bibi says he'll run against Barak, but I say to both of them - I'm going to be prime minister," Olmert declared.
PM: Home front adequately protected
The prime minister also stated that Israel must be governed with an appropriate combination of security concern, human compassion, and economic and social responsibility.
Ever since taking over as Labor chairman, Barak has been vociferous about his intent to topple Olmert and force an early general election.
Meanwhile, Netanyahu has adopted a strategy of attacking Barak, blaming the Second Lebanon War on Barak's withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000.
Netanyahu turned his attention to Barak after disposing of his main competition in the Likud, MK Silvan Shalom, when Shalom announced two weeks ago that he would not seek the Likud leadership.
Olmert also told Kadima supporters that Haim Ramon and Ronnie Bar-On had been appointed to ministerial posts because they were the "most qualified" candidates to hold them. However, he said, both Ramon and Bar-On were friends of his, and he placed the "highest value" on friendship.
Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.