Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Israelis call for Olmert to resign

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert hugs a supporter after speaking Friday at an event marking the 60th anniversary of the creation of the state of Israel.

Associated Press

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert hugs a supporter after speaking Friday at an event marking the 60th anniversary of the creation of the state of Israel.

JERUSALEM — The overwhelming view in Israel on Friday, just hours after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert declared his innocence in a bribery investigation involving a Long Island businessman, was that the post-Olmert political era had already begun.

Calls for his resignation came from left, right and center, although all acknowledged that Olmert had won himself time by vowing, as he did Thursday night, to resign if charged. The investigation is likely to take another month or two.

"The public doesn't have too much more patience," said Colette Avital, a Parliament member from the Labor Party, a partner in the governing coalition with Olmert's Kadima Party. "He is simply discredited. It may take some more weeks, or even months, but he won't be able to go on."

Since Olmert has been investigated several times before and proved to be a survivor — a "Houdini," in the words of a senior official who spoke on condition of anonymity — his political obituary may yet again prove premature.

This inquiry, however, is widely viewed as the most serious he has faced. It involves allegations that he took hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from Morris Talansky of Long Island over a decade. Olmert said that they were legal campaign contributions.

"I look in the eye of each and every one of you and say: 'I never took a bribe,' " he said.

Shalom Yerushalmi, a commentator for the newspaper Maariv, wrote Friday that while the prime minister was asking to be believed, "If the public could respond collectively, it would, of course, ask: 'Why? For how many years can we hear about your escapades with the police and go on believing you?' "

Numerous analysts argued that Israel's intense security challenges could not be met effectively by a leader with such low public confidence. Peace negotiations with the Palestinians, which President Bush is hoping to advance by visiting here next week, and moves toward Syria require hard decisions, especially in the wake of the violent Hezbollah takeover in Beirut on Friday.

"Until now, Olmert was threatened but surviving, and it seemed he needed the peace negotiations as a source of strength, which Palestinian negotiators appreciated," said Ghassan Khatib, a Palestinian lecturer in cultural studies at Bir Zeit University. "But now it feels like he is headed out, and that is very bad news for the negotiations."

Israelis call for Olmert to resign 05/09/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 1:40pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, New York Times.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. UPS relocates express operations from St. Pete-Clearwater to TIA

    Airlines

    TAMPA — United Parcel Service Inc. is switching airports for its express air operations. Beginning in October, UPS will relocate from St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport to Tampa International Airport.

    Beginning in October, UPS will move from St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport to Tampa International Airport. [Associated Press file photo]

  2. St. Petersburg man shot in arm during home invasion robbery

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — One man was arrested on charges he shot another man in the arm while attempting to rob a home in what St. Petersburg police are calling a drug-related incident.

    John Alam, 25, faces charges of home invasion robbery, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and possession of a firearm by a felon after deputies said he tried to rob a home Wednesday morning and ended up shooting someone. [Courtesy of Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]
  3. Bob Buckhorn, a mayor who knows what he wants, surveys constituents on what they want

    Local

    TAMPA — Focus has not been a problem — or really, even a question — during the six-plus years that Mayor Bob Buckhorn has been in office.

    Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn keeps a digital countdown clock in his office showing the days, hours. minutes and seconds until he is term-limited out of office on April 1, 2019. As of Wednesday, he had 584 days to go. [City of Tampa]
  4. WATCH: Heroic Hooters manager helps two sheriff's deputies subdue unruly customer

    Crime

    BRANDON — The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office praised a heroic Hooters Restaurant manager Wednesday for coming to the aid of two deputies struggling to subdue an unruly customer.

    It took two deputies and a Hooter's manager to get control of Ashton B. Toney after he threatened to kill an employee who refused to serve him alcohol at a Hooter's in Brandon, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office reported.
[Booking photo from the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]