'Kadima must prepare for all scenarios, including elections'

Livni ends her silence on Olmert case, announces she's "working towards a swift, clean process"; Barak: Early elections seem inevitable.

livni good 224 88  ap (photo credit: AP)
livni good 224 88 ap
(photo credit: AP)
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni ratcheted up the pressure on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to leave office on Thursday, calling for a "swift clean process" within Kadima, and saying that the party "had to prepare for all scenarios, including elections." "As of yesterday, there is a new reality," Livni said, speaking at a homeland security conference in Jerusalem. "I can't ignore the events of the past two days. This is no longer just a criminal or judicial issue. This is about values and norms that impact the State of Israel," she said. "The most infuriating thing is the suggestion that [Olmert's] norms have to be adopted as part of the political system," Livni said. "Kadima needs to take a decision on what it wants. It needs to prepare now for all possible scenarios, including elections. These are the things I've been telling party and faction members. I'm working towards a clean, fast process," she added, alluding to primaries to replace Olmert as party leader. "I'm a big believer in Kadima's contribution, not just to political life in Israel, but to what is happening in the State," she added. Earlier, Public Security Minister Avi Dichter was grilled by journalists who demanded that he respond to Olmert's situation. "Since I am minister of public security, whatever statement I make will have implications on the criminal investigation," Dichter said. "You're also a public official!" a member of the media retorted. "Do you have nothing to say about this?" But Dicther refused to be drawn in. "We shouldn't have a 'lite' prime minister. We need to have a full time leader," he said. "The reality which we are in is complex. The prime minister will have to sit and examine it," Dichter added. Dicther reiterated his intention to enter the running for the Kadima party leadership when primaries begin. Earlier, Defense Minister and Labor chairman Ehud Barak said that he would prefer to strengthen the government and keep the current coalition in the Knesset over going to early elections. Speaking at a meeting of Labor ministers, Barak added that despite this preference, he believes it is most likely that the political system will be forced to go to early elections. On Wednesday, Barak convened a press conference in which he called on Olmert to "detach himself from the day-to-day leadership of the country" in light of the Talansky affair. During Thursday's meeting, the Labor ministers decided that they would grant Kadima a period of a few weeks to organize itself and to decide whether or not to replace Olmert internally and keep the current coalition intact. If Kadima does not take this option, the ministers agreed that Labor would begin the process of early elections.