Olmert could step down over Kadima vote


Ehud Olmert agreed to step down as Israeli prime minister if he loses a leadership election in the Kadima Party.

Under terms of a deal Wednesday between Olmert and his biggest Kadima rival, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, the party will hold a leadership election by Sept. 25. Should Olmert be ousted as Kadima chairman, his successor would form – and head – a new government by November, political sources said.

Olmert is widely expected to try to run for reelection in Kadima, though he has not confirmed this. Ha’aretz reported Thursday that he will not run.

The early Kadima leadership vote was set during a power-struggle last month between Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, whose Labor Party is Kadima’s biggest coalition partner. Barak has conditioned remaining in the government on a shake-up in Kadima and signaled that he would agree to stay on under Livni.


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