Olmert, Livni deny reports of fighting

Both ministers candidates for the number two slot in Kadima.

olmert 88 (photo credit: )
olmert 88
(photo credit: )
Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert denied on Thursday the reported conflict between him and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni. He claimed that they have a very good relationship, stressing, "There is no war, and there was no war." Olmert rejected the suggestion that his associates were fighting with Livni's aides. Livni also downplayed the reports, saying she was very surprised at the headlines in the morning papers claiming she and Olmert were fighting. "I have no interest in carrying out dramas such as these," said Livni Thursday evening. In one of the first orders of business since his release from hospital, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has ordered a halt of in-house bickering over personal political ambitions in his newly formed Kadima Party. The prime minister summoned both Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni to his office on Thursday and reportedly told the two to focus strictly on ministerial issues and the greater good of the party ahead of the upcoming elections set for this coming March. After the meeting, Kadima issued the following statement: "The ministers have an absolute faith in the way the list is being drafted. In any case, the leadership of Kadima is not on the agenda because Sharon will continue to be the leader of the party and the prime minister in the next term. In the future, the leadership will be decided in primaries." Both Olmert and Livni are aiming for the highest position, possibly even the number two slot, on the yet to be determined order in Kadima's list for the next Knesset. The finance minister expressed his confidence that both he and Livni would take leading positions in Kadima. The prime minister will determine who will occupy the number two slot, he said in response to a specific question. Livni's associates were quoted Thursday morning in a Yediot Aharonot report in which they were quoted as calling Olmert a political animal, a champion of political games, and that he would drive Sharon crazy. Olmert's associates responded by asking what Livni had accomplished in her political career. Both comments drew the ire of the prime minister, who according to his associates would not tolerate such behavior, citing that one of the main reasons he chose to leave the Likud was to distance himself from exactly such behavior. Gil Hoffman contributed to this report