First Published: 2007-05-02

 
Israeli FM to ask Olmert to resign
 

Polls show vast majority of Israelis want Olmert to resign over mishandling of Lebanon war.

 

Middle East Online

Losing support from members of his own party

TEL AVIV - Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is expected to ask beleaguered Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to resign during a meeting later on Wednesday, a senior official in her office said.

Livni, a member of Olmert's Kadima party widely tipped to take over party leadership should he quit, is due to meet with Olmert at 1300 GMT, the official said on condition of anonymity.

"She is expected to ask him to resign," he said.

Should she issue the call, Livni would become the most senior member in Olmert's ruling coalition and within his party to join the chorus clamouring for the premier's scalp in the wake of a damning report of his handling of last year's Lebanon war.

Monday's partial report by a government commission accused Olmert of "serious failure in exercising judgement, responsibility and prudence," of acting "hastily" and personally contributing to "over-ambitious" and unfeasible war aims.

Speaking late on Monday, Olmert told the nation it would be "incorrect" for him to resign. He vowed that his government, already reeling from a string of sex and corruption scandals, would now focus quickly to correct the faults.



Vast majority of Israelis want Olmert to resign



The vast majority of Israelis want Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to resign in the wake of a critical inquiry that blasted his handling of the Lebanon war, according to polls published on Wednesday.

Sixty-five percent of Israelis want Olmert to resign immediately, compared with 10 percent against such a move and 25 percent who want him to quit only after the final report on the war, due by August, said the poll in the mass-selling Yediot Aharonot.

Fifty-one percent want early elections, while 23 percent want the current legislature to continue sitting should Olmert and his Defence Minister Amir Peretz, also roasted by the interim findings in the report of the Winograd Commission, step down.

Twenty-nine percent think that Benjamin Netanyahu, the chief of the main right-wing opposition Likud party and a former premier, is most capable of assuming the functions of prime minister.

He is followed by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni of Olmert's Kadima party with 20 percent, senior Labour party politician Ami Ayalon with 14 percent and former Labour premier Edud Barak with 10 percent.

Only six percent think that Olmert is capable of carrying out premier's duties.

The poll had a 4.5 percent margin of error. The paper did not specify how many people were questioned.

Another survey published by the liberal Haaretz paper showed that 68 percent of Israelis wanted Olmert to resign and 40 were in favour of early parliamentary elections.

A survey in the Maariv tabloid showed that early elections would be won by Likud, which would get 30 deputies in the 120-seat Knesset, compared with the current 12 mandates.

Olmert's Kadima would get 20 seats, compared with 29 now; its main coalition partner Labour would get 18 seats, compared with 19 today.

The ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beitenu party would get 14 seats, compared with 11 today and ultra-Orthodox Shas would get eight seats, compared with 12 today. Both parties are currently members of Olmert's 78-seat ruling coalition.

 

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