Thursday, February 07, 2008

Former Coalition Chairman Resigns Over Olmert Obstinance

Ezra HaLevi

Former Coalition Chairman Avigdor Yitzchaki (Kadima) resigned Thursday in protest of PM Olmert’s refusal to step down. “Olmert is truly dangerous for Israel,” he said of his party leader.

MK Yitzchaki handed his resignation to Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik. It will take effect in 24 hours. “This is a difficult decision,” MK Yitzchaki said, “but I promised that if the Prime MinisThe Kadima MK already announced his decision a week ago. Anti-Olmert MKs had been trying to convince him to stay on, saying he would be replaced by a pro-Olmert MK, making it that much more difficult to garner a majority against the Prime Minister in votes to bring down the government.

He refused, saying Monday that he cannot continue to sit beside people who have no concern for the future existence of the State of Israel. "I have to say, it is too difficult for me to sit beside people who really do not care about the leadership, the ethics, the very existence of this country," said Yitzchaki of his Kadima Party colleagues. "I look forward to returning to this building, but under worthy leadership."

He told Yediot Acharonot that Prime Minister Olmert is “the worst prime minister in the history of the state” and that Olmert is “truly dangerous for Israel.”

Yitzchaki was a founder of Kadima together with former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, a close friend of his, and served as party chairman in 2006. Yitzchaki supported the destruction of 25 Jewish towns in the 2005 Disengagement from Gaza. He has been trying to unseat Olmert since the publication of the Winograd committee’s interim report last year. Due to his rebellion, he was relieved of his position as party whip.

Though he originally sought to replace Olmert with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, he now says Livni carries an unethical stain on her personality in that she has remained by Olmert’s side. He insists that most Kadima MKs want Olmert ousted, but that they have been bought with positions of power.

Ethiopian Jewish immigrant Shlomo Mula will take Yitzchaki’s place as next on the Kadima Party’s Knesset list.

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