Exclusive: Hamas truce traded for Olmert’s survival in undercover Olmert-Barak deal

Israel’s embattled prime minister Ehud Olmert made a sudden U-turn Wednesday, June 11. He agreed to his Kadima party holding an early primary to elect a new leader. This was announced by Kadima MK Tzahi Hanegbi shortly after the security cabinet approved Olmert’s decision to accept the Egyptian formula for a truce with Hamas, instead of launching a large-scale military campaign in Gaza.
debkafile‘s political sources reveal that the two decisions were part of an undercover deal between Olmert and defense minister Ehud Barak (Labor leader) to allow the prime minister to hang onto office for several more months. Several initiatives have been afoot to remove Olmert from office over his suspected corrupt practices.
Barak agreed to hold his party back from voting for an opposition dissolution motion. The date for a general election was thus postponed, since without Labor there is no majority to dissolve the Knesset.
Olmert was safe in agreeing to a primary because the fledgling Kadima needs to formulate procedures for holding its primary ever, a time-consuming process, after which the various contenders will want more time for campaigning.
Barak for his part won the prime minister round to his preference for ceasefire with Hamas, however, shaky, rather than a definitive military action to scotch Hamas’ missile-rocket-mortar offensive against southwestern Israel from Gaza.
debkafile notes the low marks for politicians and politics given in the Israeli Democracy Institution’s latest poll this week: Only 17% of Israelis trust prime minister Olmert, and 15% the political parties.

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