Close officials of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Friday that the behavior of Foreign Minster Tzipi Livni at the previous evening's Kadima rally stemmed from "narrow political considerations." Livni was the only senior member of the party not to publicly and explicitly declare support for Olmert, choosing instead to issue a general call of unity to the party's ranks. "To those who anticipate a split in the party, we have to give a short answer: we are staying together," said Livni, after Olmert had pledged to serve the full four years of his term, even as he told party members in Petah Tikva: "I'm not a popular prime minister."
Olmert admits he's not a popular PM
By law, should Olmert resign, Livni would become prime minister. The party could then rally around her or choose to hold primaries.
Meanwhile, MK Silvan Shalom (Likud) called for immediate new elections, saying that Olmert no longer had the mandate to lead.
"My preference and the preference of the Israeli public, according to every survey, is to go to elections," said Shalom. "I think it is the right think to do, I believe that we mustn't give up and I believe that we, together with a non governmental organization, need to demonstrate the need to once again turn to the public."
Shalom emphasized that in is opinion, he was the right man to lead the Likud in the new elections, and not Opposition Leader Binyamin Netanyahu.
Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman called on the Likud to join an emergency government led by Olmert. "Even if the Likud gets 40 mandates, it is clear that the following day, 30 MKs will rise up against Netanyahu and the phenomena of camps and rebels will return," said Lieberman, adding, "we need an emergency national government at this moment and not a continuation of political struggles and fruitless fighting," Army Radio reported.