Some Kadima MKs slam Olmert, seek new leader

Party members name Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Public Security Minister Avi Dichter and Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz as possible successors.

By REBECCA ANNA STOIL
May 6, 2008 22:33
2 minute read.
Some Kadima MKs slam Olmert, seek new leader

Livni 224.88. (photo credit: GPO)

After another day of rampant rumors concerning the latest criminal investigation into Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, members of the prime minister's own party openly criticized Kadima's top man on Tuesday and called for his resignation - in order to save the future of the party. Party members said they were waiting for a dominant figure to stand up and take the reins, and named Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Public Security Minister Avi Dichter and Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz as possible successors, noting that even if they did not serve as prime minister, they could help redirect the party and refocus its energies on critical subjects. So far, however, Kadima's top leadership has refrained from making any statements on Olmert's investigation, and no Kadima ministers have made any moves toward taking the lead inside the party. Only Absorption Minister Ya'acov Edri has addressed the investigation at all. Speaking Monday during a fiery Knesset discussion in which the opposition challenged Olmert's diplomatic policy, Edri expressed his confidence in Olmert's abilities as prime minister and his certainty that Olmert could continue his participation in negotiations even while the investigation was under way. But within the Kadima rank and file, Olmert's standing seemed much less certain. Kadima MK Ze'ev Elkin blasted the prime minister for focusing on his "secretive" diplomatic negotiations rather than on the gagged investigation. "Peace isn't something you smuggle in under cover of darkness and isn't carried out through spin doctors. Rather, real peace is carried out in broad daylight and not hidden under gag orders," Elkin said in an interview with Army Radio. "Kadima must come to its senses and pick a new leader." Elkin accused Olmert of bringing the party - and the country - to a dead end, a charge echoed by fellow party member MK Marina Solodkin. Solodkin added that Olmert, together with Vice Premier Haim Ramon and a handful of others, had hijacked Kadima, originally a "center-right-liberal party" and made it into a "center-left party." While she emphasized that she did not want to make judgments regarding the current investigation, Solodkin said Olmert had caused significant damage to the government by bringing in people with poor political - and ethical - reputations. "I don't want to judge the personal element involved, but the political element is serious enough. To appoint people like Avraham Hirschson and Shula Zaken was a political error," she explained. "And he hasn't apologized for these things. There has been no regret, no apology. All the people with whom he has chosen to surround himself, the spins cast around about the final Winograd Report, and the negotiations with Syria are all too much for the people who are really concerned about our existence." But Solodkin said it was perhaps this latest investigation that would tip the balance against a politician who had managed to maintain a heavy Teflon coating during earlier scandals. "This is one investigation too many - public norms in a functional country don't allow a prime minister whose finance minister is a thief and criminal of the worst proportions, and whose personal assistant is suspected of the worst types of corruption. Either we are a banana republic and we must write that in big letters, or we must expect a change."


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