"Israel and the peace process are awaiting the post-Ehud Olmert era," the London-based Arabic-language newspaper Al-Hayat determined in its headline Thursday in the wake of the Israeli prime minister's announcement that he would step down following the Kadima primaries in September.
The announcement was covered by the leading newspapers in the Arab world, while Arab television stations have already begun to analyze public opinion polls in Israel and estimate who is likely to take over as Kadima chairperson following Olmert's expected resignation. The leading candidates for the post are Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz.
Public opinion polls indicate that should the Kadima primaries be followed by general elections, Opposition leader and Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu stands a good chance of becoming Israel's next prime minister.
Most Arab media outlets, including Hizbullah-affiliated internet sites posted brief reports on Olmert's announcement, apparently because it was broadcast at a relatively late hour.
Al-Hayat said Olmert's move was likely to affect the continuation of the peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, despite statements made by diplomatic sources familiar with the talks according to which the US was still seeking a Mideast peace deal by 2009.
Al-Quds Al-Arabi, also based in London, focused on other aspects of Olmert's dramatic public address.
"He (Olmert) admitted to making political mistakes and vowed to clear his name with regards to the bribery allegations against him," the daily reported.
The London-based newspaper Al-Sharq al-Awsat said, "Olmert is resigning and is blaming Israeli politicians for conspiring behind his back regarding the negotiations with Syria."