Ramon joins calls for Olmert to go now

Cites mishandling of economic crisis; Kadima slams Netanyahu for not calling on PM to leave post.

ramon haim 298 88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
ramon haim 298 88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert should suspend himself now, Vice Prime Minister Haim Ramon said on Saturday night. "I look at him as a friend and tell him that I don't see why it is good for him to stay on," Ramon said on Channel 2's Meet the Press program. Remaining in office harms Olmert for many reasons, "but I don't judge him, I think it's impossible to judge," he said. Still, Olmert was a good prime minister, Ramon said. "I am a close friend of his... and I can say that I have tried to speak to him," he added. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni released a statement Thursday calling on Olmert to suspend himself following Attorney General Menachem Mazuz's announcement last week that he plans to indict Olmert in the Rishon Tours case, pending a hearing. Sources in Kadima criticized Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu for not joining the calls for Olmert to suspend himself. "Livni knew she is not going to change Olmert's mind but she felt it was important for her to present her moral stance in the matter," a source close to Livni told The Jerusalem Post Saturday night. "But Netanyahu didn't do anything. On the contrary, his people released statements against her calls for Olmert to resign. This is hypocrisy," the source said. "Netanyahu ran a personal campaign against the prime minister and against his conduct and now when the general attorney decides to indict he keeps quiet?" a senior source in Kadima said. The Likud said, on the contrary, that Livni's stance was hypocritical. "Livni hasn't called on Ramon, who was convicted, to resign, and she never called on Tzahi Hanegbi to resign even though he's on trial at the moment [for alleged improper political appointments], yet she has called on Olmert to resign when an indictment hasn't been submitted yet," a Likud source said. "Livni wants to sit on the prime minister's chair for two months; she is motivated by political considerations rather than by moral principles as she claims." Ramon, meanwhile, criticized Olmert for meeting with Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu last week to discuss the economic crisis. "There are moves that Olmert makes that I don't agree with. I personally think it is wrong to come and make the one who is responsible for the losses in the saving and pension funds into someone who is considered a savior," he said. Bringing together all the political parties to rescue pensioners' savings was one thing, "but designating Binyamin Netanyahu as a senior or leading partner I think is a mistake, especially because he is responsible for this illness," Ramon added. Also on Saturday evening, Likud MKs criticized former justice minister Dan Meridor, who recently rejoined the party and is running in its primary, for saying at a legal conference in Caesarea on Friday that Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann is responsible for the destruction of the public's trust in the justice system. The Likud MKs rushed to defend Friedmann. "Meridor's statement is not acceptable, not by me and not by most of my friends in the Likud," MK Michael Eitan said. "If Meridor wants to change the Likud's positions, the right way to do it is not by releasing statements to the press but via discussions in the party's institutions." MK Gilad Erdan said that most of the reforms Friedmann had led were justified and received the support of the Likud. "Unfortunately, the court system justifiably earned the criticism, and instead of looking for people to blame, it is appropriate that the system and those who are responsible for it try to regain the public's trust," Erdan said. "The Likud's stances regarding the justice system are different than those Meridor presents," Erdan said. Friedmann came out with an angry response. "The damage to the public's trust is a result of decisions made by the Supreme Court and in the justice system, and not a result of the justice minister's decisions," Friedmann said. "Only recently, the Supreme Court justices decided not to appoint judges for the magistrate's and district courts, a decision that hurts the rights of the people whose cases are being litigated, and the entire court system," Friedmann said.