Kadima won't set date for race yet

Olmert accuses Livni of "panicking" and hinted yet again that he might run in the primary in September.

kadima 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
kadima 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Kadima leadership candidates were disappointed Monday when Prime Minister Ehud Olmert revealed that no date would be set for the party's race when its governing council convenes Thursday. The leading candidate in the race, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, had demanded that the council already make all the necessary changes to the party constitution to allow the race to begin in earnest without additional meetings. But instead the council will only vote to approve Kadima's agreement with Labor that the primary would be held no later than September 25. In a stormy meeting of the Kadima faction in the Knesset, Livni said the council should decide that whoever wins the primary would be the party's prime ministerial candidate. She said she opposed proposals by Olmert's allies that would initiate a second primary ahead of the next general election. Olmert responded by accusing Livni of "panicking" and by hinting yet again that he might run in the primary in September. His associates said the knowledge that another primary could be held if the prime minister were indicted might allow Kadima members to vote for Olmert with a clearer conscience. "If there will be a primary and after three months general elections, that's one thing," Olmert told the faction. "But if there are primaries and then no election for two and a half years, that's different no matter who wins and how they are chosen." Sources close to Livni accused Olmert of playing political tricks. Olmert's associates responded that there was no reason to hurry with the party's decisions. They said Kadima's election committee would eventually meet to set a date for the race. Olmert will not attend the council meeting, but the four Kadima leadership candidates are expected to speak there.