Kadima council paves way to oust Olmert

Olmert reportedly calls Livni "a backstabbing liar;" FM: Corrupt politicians must pay with their office.

Olmert livni cabinet 224 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Olmert livni cabinet 224
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will be replaced as Kadima leader in mid-September, barring unforeseen circumstances, after the Kadima council received the necessary votes on Monday to initiate a party leadership primary. It took 12 days of voting, but a majority of the council's 180 members voted to change the party's constitution to allow the primary to take place. The next step is for Kadima's election committee to set a date for the primary and a mid-August deadline for potential candidates to join the race. Sources close to Olmert said he would likely wait until the last possible moment to announce that he is not running in order to minimize the time that he would be considered a lame duck. Olmert's associates said there was almost no chance that he would run, because he is aware that he would have no chance of winning. "It took too long, but I am happy that Olmert is finally on his way out," a Kadima MK who opposes Olmert said. "I can only hope it's not too late to save the party and restore the public's faith in it and its leaders. Olmert is a corpse that has already started to stink and he needs to be removed as soon as possible." Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni expressed satisfaction that a majority was achieved after she had pressured council members to vote in favor of the primary. Olmert unleashed an unprecedented fierce attack on the foreign minister on Monday, reportedly calling her a "backstabbing liar." According to a report by Channel 2 political correspondent Rina Matzliah, Olmert said in closed conversation that Livni was the least qualified out of the four Kadima leadership candidates and that she had lied to the Winograd Committee that investigated the Second Lebanon War. "Livni is not made from the material that leaders are made out of," Olmert said according to the report. "She cannot make big decisions. She never has, not as justice minister and not as foreign minister." A Livni associate said in response: "So he said it. So what?" Earlier Monday, Livni had said that Israeli politicians who engage in corruption must pay with their office. She added that the Israeli public must do its part by supporting only honest candidates. It is important "to say no to temptations which are offered clandestinely, to say no when that becomes a norm that society cannot accept," the foreign minister said during a conference on democracy at the President's Residence in Jerusalem. "From the criminal aspect, a person who breaks the law pays with his freedom; from the normative aspect, one must pay with his office," she said. "Everybody in the political sphere understands the extent to which corruption [demonstrates] weakness," Livni continued. "Strength is necessary in order to compete with temptations and daily demands." Politicians and the Israeli public must drum up the courage "to say no to corruption and to retain the values and norms of the State of Israel," she said. "The job of each and every one of us is to find that strength, and the public [must also do its part] and support honesty...if we don't fight corruption and the lack of public faith in the government, citizens will abstain from their most basic and important thing - the right to vote. "I can understand the public's anger, but we cannot give in to despair," the foreign minister added. Jpost.com staff contributed to this report.