Ehud Olmert to stay out of upcoming election

Former PM makes clear to MKs he won't be running; Olmert not present on Kadima list; four Kadima members drop out of party.

Olmert speaks at Saban Forum in Washington 370 (photo credit: Screenshot Brookings Institute )
Olmert speaks at Saban Forum in Washington 370
(photo credit: Screenshot Brookings Institute )
The saga surrounding the possible Knesset run of former prime minister Ehud Olmert ended officially on Wednesday when Kadima released its Knesset candidates list, which features party leader Shaul Mofaz at the top.
Kadima MKs had hoped until the last minute that Olmert would run and revive the party’s sagging fortunes. But he decided to wait until the next election, by which time he hopes his legal battles will be behind him.
“There is no reason for him to hold a press conference,” Olmert’s spokesman said.
When Olmert made clear to MKs following his return from the US on Tuesday night that he would not run, some decided to retire rather than run for a party that according to the polls will go from the 28 seats it won in the last election to not passing the 2 percent electoral threshold. Veteran MKs Dalia Itzik, Ronnie Bar- On and Ya’acov Edri left political life on Wednesday, shortly before the party released its list of candidates for the next Knesset.
Itzik announced she is taking a break from politics, after 20 years in the Knesset.
As a Labor MK, she served as environmental protection minister, industry, trade and labor minister and communications minister. She moved to Kadima when then-prime minister Ariel Sharon founded the party seven years ago, becoming the first female Knesset Speaker.
“I didn’t think I’d be able to contribute much in the current situation, but I’ll be back,” Itzik said on Wednesday.
“The time has come for me to rest. I thought I could keep the party together but the ‘I’s’ in the party defeated the ‘we.’” Bar-On is chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, and has been an MK since 2003, when he ran with the Likud.
He served as finance minister, interior minister, national infrastructure minister and science and technology minister. He was also attorney-general in 1997, but resigned after two days, due to the Bar-On-Hebron corruption scandal.
Bar-On met with Mofaz on Wednesday, telling him that he still supports Kadima and will help the party in the upcoming election campaign if he is needed.
Edri also entered the Knesset in 2003, and served in several ministerial positions, including in the health, immigration and absorption, Negev and Galilee and Jerusalem affairs portfolios.
Later on Wednesday, Kadima MK Marina Solodkin, who brought many votes from the Russian immigrant community to the party, also resigned from politics, after she was put in the unrealistic ninth spot on the list for the next Knesset. She said she could not tolerate what she saw as an attempt to harm her constituency and an attempt by Olmert to settle an old score with her.
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“This was a dirty trick by Olmert,” Solodkin said. “I told Shaul [Mofaz] that where he put me on the list was unacceptable. This is not Kadima anymore.”
Solodkin first entered the Knesset in 1996 with the Yisrael B’Aliya party. She twice served as deputy immigrant absorption minister.
Mofaz is first on the Kadima candidates list, followed by MKs Yisrael Hasson, Yohanan Plesner, Ze’ev Bielski, Ronit Tirosh, Shai Hermesh, Yuval Zellner and Doron Avital, former Shinui MK Etti Livni and Kadima MK Akram Hasson.
Zellner, Avital and Hasson have not served a full Knesset term, as they replaced lawmakers who died or resigned during the 18th Knesset’s tenure.
“Kadima is approaching the election with an experienced, responsible, highquality, varied list,” Mofaz said. “Today it is clear who is Kadima and what the party represents. I believe in Kadima and its path, and together we will succeed.”