Opposition: Coalition will fall soon

MK Lieberman working for early elections by this September.

Lieberman 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Lieberman 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Opposition members said on Sunday that in light of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's latest investigation and the split of coalition member Gil Pensioners Party, the government's days are numbered. On Monday, Olmert's political enemies are expected to hold a special recess session of the Knesset plenum - scheduled in advance of the latest scandal - at which they plan on taking swings at a weakening coalition. On Sunday, Shula Zaken, Olmert's former bureau head and secretary of 30 years, was questioned for a second time in less than a week at the Israel Police Fraud Unit's Bat Yam offices. Olmert himself will likely be interrogated several more times by the Fraud Unit on the new criminal allegations against him, a former senior police investigator told The Jerusalem Post. A sweeping court-ordered media ban has kept details and the names of other suspects in the investigation hidden from public view. In a joint statement on Sunday, Attorney-General Mazuz, State Prosecutor Moshe Lador, and the head of the Police Investigations branch, Cmdr. Yohanan Danino, said they were "well-aware of the public's need to know" and would "continue to follow the development of the situation carefully, in a way that will enable, promptly, giving more information to the public, as far as it is possible to do so without harming the investigation." Israel Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman said that because of "the breakup of the Pensioners faction and the breakup of Olmert's coalition, there will be new elections for the Knesset." He plans on working toward an election as early as September. "Tomorrow, we will attempt to act with other faction heads to achieve an agreed-upon date, before the November municipal elections," he said. A day earlier, Likud MK Silvan Shalom also threatened - in the wake of the latest scandal - that by the beginning of the summer Knesset session in less than two weeks he could gather enough support to call for the dissolution of the Knesset. But Lieberman, who has been under investigation for 12 years, said he would not comment on the latest probe against the prime minister, "in accordance with the gag order that is in effect." From the other side of the political spectrum, MK Ahmed Tibi (UAL) and MK Ophir Paz-Pines (Labor) joined in the calls that began on Friday, demanding greater transparency in the investigation and especially in the lifting of the gag order, "to put an end to the wave of rumors." Nevertheless, others, including Shas chairman Eli Yishai (Shas) and MK Amir Peretz (Labor) called on opposition members to stop trying to make political hay out of the investigation and the rumors surrounding it. Speculation within the Knesset on Sunday included talk that this investigation - as opposed to previous probes into Olmert that are ongoing or lead to dead ends - would result in a stronger case, making it easier to prove criminal behavior. Most promising for Olmert on Sunday was the relative silence from leaders of the Labor Party - the make-it-or-break-it link in Olmert's coalition - who seemed to be waiting patiently until the details of the new investigation became clearer.