Olmert: I'm sure a miracle will save my job

But PM expresses confidence in interview to Der Spiegel; Barak's Labor falls to 14 seats in poll.

Olmert worried 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
Olmert worried 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert expressed confidence Thursday that a miracle will save his premiership. Asked in an interview published in the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel how confident he was that he would survive politically until the end of his term, Olmert said, "Look, miracles in the Middle East are a reality." He added: "Ben-Gurion once said, 'Only those who believe in miracles are realists in the Middle East.' So anything can happen. My predecessors were all investigated, all were accused, all were prosecuted - in an atmosphere that was sometimes intolerable. And they are all still alive and kicking - except for Ariel Sharon, whom I wish the best for a complete recovery." Olmert recalled that when he took over for Sharon following his stroke in January 2006, there were very few Israelis who believed he would still be prime minister at the end of June 2008. "But here I am," Olmert said. "I am sitting here and I have no intention of pulling out." In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, Olmert said he was "going nowhere" and he did not rule out running again for the leadership of Kadima. To demonstrate his faith in his staying power, he even made a point of inviting Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to visit Israel later this year. But efforts to initiate a Kadima primary in which Olmert will almost assuredly be replaced will continue next week, and the Knesset will vote Wednesday on the preliminary reading of Likud MK Silvan Shalom's bill to dissolve the Knesset. The bill has a significant majority for its preliminary reading, but Labor Chairman Ehud Barak has not decided whether to vote for it in its decisive second and third readings. A Shvakim Panorama poll broadcast on Israel Radio Thursday found that if Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni were elected Kadima leader in a primary expected to be held in early September, she would lead the party to 22 seats (down from the current 29) in the next general election, three less than Binyamin Netanyahu's Likud. Barak's Labor would fall to 14 seats, according to the poll, down from its current 19 and down from the 16 it received in a poll taken by the same company two weeks ago. The poll found that if Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz won the Kadima primary, he would take support away from the Likud in a general election, which would then win 22 seats (still up from the current 12), with Kadima getting 18 and Labor 17. It was the first poll that found that Labor would become the third largest party even if Mofaz led Kadima and not Livni. The Kadima race will be decided in part by the party's membership drive, which will end on June 30. Ma'ariv was set to publish an investigation on Friday of the membership forms Mofaz submitted from workers in companies connected to his ministry such as the Egged bus cooperative. The same newspaper reported Thursday that Barak's nonprofit organization scandal could soon resurface, because a vote contractor who worked for Barak was demanding the party pay him NIS 13,619,605 within a week. The vote contractor, Shmuel Levy, declined to serve as a state's witness during the police investigation of the scandal, but he now is threatening legal proceedings if Labor does not pay him money he believes it owes him for services he provided. Then-attorney-general Elyakim Rubinstein closed the case against Barak in 2003.