MK Ophir Pines - petition to leave government
Photo: Yaron Brener
Photo: Gil Yohanan
MK Yossi Beilin - 'Olmert must resign'
Photo: Gil Yohanan
MK Limor Livnat - 'Olmert's diversions won't work'
Photo: Dudi Vaaknin

'Report another nail in Olmert's coffin'

Knesset members quick to attack prime minister following state comptroller's report charging Olmert with corruption. MK Ophir Pines: Labor should leave the government

Criticism of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert following State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss' report on Wednesday did not stop at party lines and Knesset members from the left and right had nothing but harsh words for Olmert.


Meanwhile, members of Olmert's own Kadima party seemed in no hurry to step forward and defend their chairman.


Lindenstrauss charged that Olmert, while serving as minister of industry, trade and labor, interfered with a project to benefit a personal friend, attorney Uri Messer.


Olmert's office responded with a strong rebuttal to the allegations and confirmed that the prime minister's attorneys have already met in private with Attorney General Menachem Mazuz to counter the comptroller's report.


MK Ophir Pines (Labor) presented Labor Chairman Amir Peretz and Secretary-General Eitan Cabel with a petition containing 290 signatures of the party's central committee members calling for the party to immediately withdraw from Olmert's government.


"Not a day goes by that we don’t hear about a new affair, a new investigation or a new suspension. This is a government that has lost the public's faith and the ability to rule. Labor should leave the government and build a governmental alternative to Netanyahu and the Likud," said Pines.


Meretz chairman, MK Yossi Beilin, called on Olmert "to resign immediately and make room for a prime minister who would be able to deal with the diplomatic and social challenges Israel is facing today. Olmert must dedicate his time to deal with the many accusations directed at him, but not as prime minister."


Prominent right-wing politicians were just as eager to slam Olmert as their leftist counterparts. MK Limor Livnat (Likud) said of her former colleague: "Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's unprecedented attack on the state comptroller should be completely rejected. No diversion by the prime minister will get him out of having to give real answers to the serious report that was published."


The National Union-National Religious Party and The Movement for Quality Government in Israel called on Mazuz to launch criminal proceedings against Olmert and rule that he must suspend himself following the comptroller's report.


"The comptroller's report points to suspicions of serious corruption. The prime minister has no choice but to suspend himself and take leave of absence," said MK Zevulun Orlev (National Union-National Religious Party).


Olmert did find support outside the political arena as Oded Tira, the chairman of Israel's Association of Industrial Manufacturers, spoke in his defense: "I'm sure that Olmert acted in good faith and I trust him. The comptroller's decision stems from the fact that he has little understanding of the field in question. I'm sure that the mountain won't turn out to be even a mouse."


Aviram Zino contributed to this report


פרסום ראשון: 04.25.07, 20:30
 new comment
This will delete your current comment