MKs urge PM to suspend himself

MK Eldad: Public knows he's a criminal; MK Pines: This is a tragic day for the State of Israel.

olmert 248.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
olmert 248.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
MKs from Meretz, Labor, Ha'Tikva and the Likud released statements on Wednesday night urging Ehud Olmert to suspend himself following Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz's declared intention to put the prime minister on trial over the Rishon Tours case. However, Olmert's associates stated that he did not intend to suspend himself. MK Zehava Gal-On (Meretz) called on Olmert to suspend himself, saying that every day the prime minister stayed in office was "pointless," because Olmert "lacks the moral and public virtues that are necessary in order to lead." MK Ophir Paz-Pines (Labor) also called on the prime minister to resign. "This is a tragic day for the State of Israel. We've reached a new low point," Pines said in a statement. "Olmert should immediately suspend himself as he publicly and explicitly promised to do. It is wrong for a person accused by the state of criminal charges to continue sitting in the prime minister's seat," Pines added. Right-wing politicians such as MK Arye Eldad (Ha'Tikva) were supportive of Mazuz's intention to put Olmert to trial. "The public knows that a criminal is leading Kadima's government," Eldad said, adding that he was disappointed with the slow-moving legal system. Eldad stated that he was "constantly amazed at Olmert's 'chutzpa' - as he continues to give away territories to the Arabs and promises withdrawals while his only mandate is over the attorneys who will represent him during the trial." MK Michael Eitan (Likud) expressed his concern with the implications on Israel's foreign policy. "Olmert should announce he is freezing all negotiations until a new government is elected," said Eitan. Eitan explained that "a transitional government led by an indicted man is a government lacking the legal and moral legitimacy required for leading a nation in political moves with far reaching consequences." Another Likud MK, Yuli Edelstein, praised Mazuz's declared intention to put Olmert on trial, but said it came too late. "His political verdict should have been given a long time ago, but his party members wouldn't let go of their chairs and backed his corrupt actions," Edelstein said. The prime minister's associates dismissed the calls. "Olmert has anyway already handed in his resignation so there is no reason for him to suspend himself," they told Army Radio. Meanwhile, Kadima leader Tzipi Livni discussed the recent developments with close aides and senior party officials and, according to the radio station, may ask Olmert to suspend himself.