Crucial few days. Olmert
Photo: AP
Will Shas accept Olmert's offer?
Photo: Gil Yohanan

Olmert considers resigning in coming days, aides say

Aides say PM will hand in resignation to president in case Knesset dissolution bill approved in Wednesday's vote. 'If motion passes and ministers are fired, Israel will have a minority government that would not be able to function and would be considered a joke,' associate says

Prime Minster Ehud Olmert is considering handing in his resignation to President Shimon Peres in the coming days should the motion calling for the Knesset's dissolution pass a preliminary vote on Wednesday, sources in the PM's Office told Ynet Monday night.


According to the sources, Olmert has yet to consult with his advisors on the issue, but his associates have already examined the possible outcomes of such a move and are expected to present their position to the prime minister.


"If the Knesset dissolution bill passes on Wednesday, the choice will be between resigning or having to face the government's collapse following a no-confidence vote," an Olmert aide said. "We'll have to seriously weigh both options.


Another Olmert associate said that in case the Knesset dissolution motion passes and the Shas ministers are fired, "Israel will have a minority government that would not be able to function and would be considered a joke".


In case Olmert resigns, an interim government would run the country until a new one is established or until general elections are held.


However, Olmert has yet to give up on his efforts to block the dissolution motion. Earlier in the day he met with Shas Chairman Eli Yishai to try and persuade the religious party not to vote in favor of the Knesset dissolution bill.


Olmert’s office said that “the prime minister is opposed to providing child welfare stipends based on professional research proving that increasing payments maintain poverty and societal gaps. The incentives presented to Shas can remove many people from poverty and Olmert will not increase the child welfare payments."


As part of his efforts to appease Shas, Olmert offered Yishai a budget increase of over NIS 1 billion for the low-income population but not through child welfare payments. Yishai rejected the offer and discussions between the sides are expected to continue until Wednesday’s vote.


Sources close to Olmert do not exclude the possibility that the prime minister’s representatives will try to convince Rabbi Ovadia Yosef to accept the additional payments. If Shas accepts the offer, it is unlikely that a vote for a Knesset dissolution bill will occur on Wednesday.


This may also affect the Labor party's strategy, after its chairman, Ehud Barak hinted at a Labor faction meeting at the Knesset that “if Shas changes its mind, we will have to reassess are moves.”


As of now, no faction is clear on how the situation will unfold on Wednesday. MK Silvan Shalom (Likud) said that in his estimation the general elections will take place this year and that the preliminary vote on the Knesset dissolution bill will put this process in motion. 


פרסום ראשון: 06.24.08, 00:57
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