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Barak firm on Olmert ultimatum

Ehud Barak reaffirmed his pledge to break up Israel’s coalition government unless the prime minister resigns over the Lebanon war. Barak took over the Labor Party’s leadership last month on a promise to pull out of the government unless Ehud Olmert quits by the time the Winograd war-inquiry comission delivers its final report. But then Barak accepted the defense portfolio in Olmert’s coalition. Nevertheless, at a Labor Party Central Committee meeting Sunday night, Barak said his ultimatum was “in force.” The Winograd Commission, whose interim report savaged Olmert for his handling of the Lebanon war, is expected to publish its conclusions by October. Olmert has said he will not resign, and though Labor is the biggest coalition partner with Olmert’s Kadima Party, the prime minister is expected to overcome a Barak walkout by turning to right-wing parties currently in the opposition.