The International Reporting (and Life) Adventures of Vivian Salama

Scenarios after Olmert Resignation

Posted by vmsalama on August 1, 2008

I’ve been a bit swamped lately — off to Sudan in a few days to report on various issues, including some agricultural investments taking place in the country as of late.  It’s a really fascinating story that branches off in so many ways.  In the meantime, I will not bore you all with my personal opinions on the resignation of Ehud Olmert, Israel’s Prime Minister.  Reuters sent out this “scenario alert” the day Olmert resigned and I think it is pretty accurate.  As you will read, several scenarios ultimately result in a boost for Benyamin Netanyahu and the rightists, which will ultimately mean (more) bad news for the Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank. – vms

July 30 (Reuters) – Ehud Olmert said on Wednesday he would resign as Israel’s prime minister after his ruling Kadima party chooses a new leader in an internal election in September, in which he will not run. 

The following are three scenarios for what might happen next in Israel’s shaken political system: 

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert speaks at his Jerusalem residence* Israeli opinion polls show Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Transport Minister Shaul Mofaz, a former defence chief, are favourites to win the Kadima party leadership contest. Either could forge a coalition similar to the current one. It would take office once sworn in by parliament in late October. Olmert would remain caretaker prime minister until then. 

* Some of Olmert’s bickering coalition partners may balk at joining a coalition with the more politically moderate Livni if she became Kadima leader. 

These parties could swing behind rightist parliamentary opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu and force President Shimon Peres to ask Netanyahu to try to form a coalition. Such a government might be reluctant to pursue U.S.-backed peace talks with the Palestinians or indirect negotiations with Syria. 

* Olmert’s resignation could prompt a majority in parliament to opt for an early election. Parliament could dissolve itself and set an election date before the scheduled date of 2010. 

An election must be held within five months of the Knesset voting to dissolve itself, but the gap is usually shorter in practice. Recent opinion polls show Netanyahu’s Likud party would emerge strongest if a vote were held now. 

Such a scenario could leave Olmert as caretaker prime minister until a government is formed after the election


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