FM Tzipi Livni calls for Kadima party to prepare for early elections

debkafile reports coalition parties Labor and Shas and the opposition Likud are gearing up for a general election in November or January 2009 at the latest. Kadima is in dire straits over the case building up against prime minister Ehud Olmert’s corrupt acceptance of large sums of cash from an American businessman and his refusal to step down for the police investigation.
Assuming that its leader Olmert’s days are numbered, the party faces a leadership primary ahead of an early poll. Foreign minister Tzipi Livni, 50, and transport minister Shaul Mofaz, 60, are the leading contenders, although at least two other ministers have thrown their hats in the ring.
Breaking her much criticized silence over the Olmert scandal Thursday, May 29, she spoke strongly in favor of a primary to choose the party’s next leader and candidate for prime minister in order to give the ordinary citizen a faith-restoring role in choosing national leaders.
In an address to an international security conference in Jerusalem, she stressed that the case against the prime minister was not just his private concern. Above and beyond the criminal and legal aspects, Kadima must demonstrate that it rejects the premise that politics is a dirty word and corruption the norm in Israeli politics. The FM rejected as totally invalid and untrue the assertions by the prime minister’s lawyers that “everyone does it.”
Minister of trade and industry, ultra-religious Shas leader Ellie Yishai will apply to the party’s rabbinical forum for approval for an early general election, which defense minister Ehud Barak called for Tuesday – albeit not as an ultimatum for the prime minister’s withdrawal.
The Attorney General Thursday instructed the prosecution to complete the case with all possible speed to dissipate the intolerable situation of a cloud of suspicion hanging over a serving prime minister.

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