Olmert, Livni to cooperate, whether they run or not

After meeting between former Kadima leaders, source close to Olmert says there is "no chance" they will run against each other.

Olmert and Livni 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Olmert and Livni 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
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.”
They agreed 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 cases.
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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.
Lador 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 untruths.”
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” attacks.
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 Olmert’s team.
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 funds.”
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 Office.”
The state spokesman denied that any personal or non-legal considerations played any role in the state’s decision.
Rather, the 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.
The spokesman 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 of responsibility.”
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 candidates.
The proposal did not pass.