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Incoming Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert speak on the plenum floor at the start of the swearing-in ceremony for Netanyahus new government at parliament in Jerusalem March 31, 2009.(Photo by: DAVID SILVERMAN / REUTERS)
Ehud Olmert urges Netanyahu to step down, preserve dignity of office
Police recommended an indictment on the same charges against Benjamin Netanyahu last month as they did Ehud Olmert before he resigned in 2008.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu must resign due to his multiple criminal investigations, former prime minister Ehud Olmert said in an interview with The Jerusalem Post that will be published in next weekend’s Post Magazine.

Olmert will be speaking at The Jerusalem Post Conference in New York on April 29.

He stepped down from the premiership in September 2008, two weeks after police recommended he be charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust and two months after he announced his intention to resign.

Police recommended an indictment on the same charges against Netanyahu last month, but Netanyahu has proclaimed his innocence and remained in office.

“My suggestion to Benjamin Netanyahu is to do what needs to be done to preserve the dignity and respect the status of the Israeli prime minister,” Olmert said. “He should do the right thing, based on what he and his family and attorneys know about his cases, and do it in a way that will not compromise the dignity of the Prime Minister’s Office and himself as prime minister.”

Reports over the past decade said Olmert was forced to resign by Ehud Barak, who headed Labor, which was his largest coalition partner, and by Tzipi Livni, No. 2 in Olmert’s Kadima Party. But Olmert claimed otherwise in the interview.

“I never compromised the status of the prime minister,” Olmert said. “When I saw the allegations against me would interfere with my performance, I resigned. I wasn’t forced. There was no problem for me to continue to serve with a stable coalition for two more years. But I decided I didn’t want to put myself in a position where the national interests of Israel were affected by my investigations.”

When asked whether Barak would have let him keep his job after Barak called upon him to resign, Olmert criticized him, saying that when Barak was prime minister, “He couldn’t manage the country, even though he did not have investigations.”

Despite his criticism of Netanyahu, Olmert expressed hope that the incumbent premier would not follow him to prison. Olmert was released in July after serving 16 months of a 27-month sentence for fraud and bribery.

“I have many opinions about Netanyahu that are far from complimentary about his behavior, his performance as prime minister, and his involvement of his family in crucial issues, but I don’t wish him to go through the pains and trials and tribulations I have been through,” he said.

The Likud responded that Olmert has said the opposite in other interviews, and therefore, there was no need to respond to him.
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