Israeli PM Olmert to step down in September

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Ehud Olmert, the current Prime Minister of Israel, has said that he will resign from his position as leader after his party's leadership contest in September. This announcement comes after it was revealed that Olmert is facing involvement in a corruption investigation in Israel.

"I was forced to defend myself against relentless attacks from self-appointed fighters for justice who sought to depose me from my position, when the ends sanctified all the means,"said Olmert, during the speech in which he announced his resignation.

A file photograph of Ehud Olmert
Image: Antônio Milena/Agência Brasil.

Despite the fact that Olmert's term in office was originally set to end in 2010, he has announced that he will quit on September 17.

Gordon Johndroe, White House spokesperson, commented on the resignation. "He [George W. Bush] wishes him well and will continue to work closely with him [Olmert] while he remains prime minister," he said. He continued by saying that Olmert and Bush "have been exceptionally close and cooperative."

Riyad al-Maliki, the Palestinian foreign minister, also reacted to the resignation. "It's true that Olmert was enthusiastic about the peace process and he spoke about this process with great attention, but it has not achieved any progress or breakthrough,"he said. His comments were in reference to Olmert's recent efforts to advance the negotiations on achieving peace in the Middle East.

A spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that Olmert's resignation is a "internal affair," and that "the Palestinian Authority deals with the prime minister of Israel, regardless if he is Olmert or somebody else."

Olmert has stated that he would work towards peace "as long as I am in my position." "I continue to believe wholeheartedly that reaching peace, ending terrorism, strengthening security and establishing a different relationship with our neighbors are the most vital goals for the future of the state of Israel," Olmert said. However, Olmert's political weakness and the turmoil his resignation has caused may undo any progress in the Palestinian and Syrian peace talks, as well as slowing in other future discussions.