Prime Minister Ehud Olmert issued rare direct criticism of his main Kadima rival, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, in weekend holiday interviews. Olmert has thus far attempted to avoid a public clash with Livni. But he told the Ma'ariv Web site NRG over the weekend that Livni also bears responsibility for what happened in the war, even though most of the criticism has been directed at himself, Defense Minister Amir Peretz and former IDF Chief-of-General Staff Dan Halutz. "I don't understand why she is seen as not bearing any liability to the public," Olmert said. "I could only suggest it's because the prime minister always bears most of the responsibility and therefore also attracts more negative fire. I can't explain it beyond that but I agree that she really was a partner in all the decisions." Asked whether she was a fitting candidate for prime minister, Olmert spoke positively, calling her a skilled young woman who has a bright future. He later referred to a recent Kadima rally where Livni was the only speaker who made a point of not supporting him. "I don't think she did anything wrong," Olmert said. "Maybe it was difficult for her mentally. I don't know how to explain it because she didn't tell me why she spoke that way and not differently and I didn't ask her, but I don't think she has a problem showing me support." Livni's spokesman declined to respond to Olmert's comments. She told Kadima activists from the former Soviet Union in Tel Aviv on Friday that she would do everything possible to ensure that the government would last a long time and achieve its goals. Kadima leaders opened the party's branch in Sderot on Saturday night. Party officials said that some 150 people from the area attended the event and they were surprised that there were no demonstrators or hecklers protesting the government's handling of the rocket attacks on the town.