"Kadima is at a point in which it must make decisions and prepare for any scenario, including early elections; I am a firm believer in the primary system," Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Thursday regarding the ongoing bribery investigation against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
Speaking at an international security conference held at the Inbal Hotel in Jerusalem, Livni added "we cannot ignore the events of the past few days. This is not just a legal matter, and it does not pertain solely to the prime minister as a private person – these are questions that are related to the values and norms that we want to instill and their effect on the public's trust in Israeli politics.
The foreign minister later told Ynet that "Kadima must set a date for primary elections as soon as possible. We must determine who will be the party's candidate for the premiership in order to ease tensions. This has to be done. Things changed following the testimony of (American financier Morris) Talansky.
Livni, who would take over as Kadima chairman should Olmert suspend himself or resign, was one of the few politicians who kept silent as the political storm brewed following the deposition of Talansky, who said he transferred some $150,000 to Olmert in cash over a 15-year period.
On Wednesday Livni sent a strong message to Olmert while leading a memorial service for former Irgun Commander David Raziel.
“The State has a vision and values that bind both its citizens and its leaders,” she said. “Those values are the common denominator representing the unwritten norms and personal codes of behavior that should guide each one of us.”
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said in response to Livni's remarks that "the decision has been made – we must start preparing for general elections, perhaps even before the end of the year.
"We have a stake in governmental stability and we will support forming a new government within the existing Knesset," he told a Labor faction meeting in Tel Aviv.