Ehud Olmert announced that he would not run in his party’s primaries.
“I will not run for the primaries of Kadima, I will not interfere in internal elections,” the Israeli prime minister said in a surprise address broadcast Wednesday evening. “I will gladly welcome the result. When a new party leader is elected, I will resign as prime minister to allow the new head to set up a new government quickly.”
Olmert said his highest priority until he resigns would be to achieve peace.
“Beyond all this I continue to believe with all my heart that achieving peace, stopping terrorism, strengthening security and creating different relations with our neighbors are the most vital goals for the future of the State of Israel,” Olmert said. “The support of the United States under the leadership of George Bush greatly assists us in this.
“We are closer than ever to concrete understandings that are likely to be the basis for agreements in the two strands of dialogue, the Palestinian and the Syrian. The moment we achieve peace we will stand baffled and wonder how we did not achieve this earlier.”
Olmert is the subject of several corruption investigations and has been under pressure from his colleagues to resign. He called the allegations a “witch hunt” and said his enemies were using the justice system to undermine the democratic process.
“The correct process now longer exists among us,” he said. “This could be a signal for our democratic life. Maybe now with my personal decision, I will open a gate to a more correct reality.”