Olmert Rejects Early Elections

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CBNNews.com - JERUSALEM, Israel - Sources close to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said he will not accept any attempts for early elections after the publication of the final Winograd Commission report, slated for the end of the month.

Claiming that early elections aren't good for the country or the "diplomatic" process, Olmert relayed his decision through staff members.

"The prime minister will not negotiate with anyone on a date for early elections," said one staffer Sunday. "It's not good for the country or the diplomatic process [negotiations with the Palestinian Authority]. It would freeze the government's work and mire the entire political system in uncertainty," he said.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak may prove to be a thorn in Olmert's side.

When Barak joined the government, after defeating former Defense Minister Amir Peretz for the Labor party chairmanship last spring, he promised to pull Labor out of the government when the Winograd Commission finalized its report.

The government-appointed commission examined the handling of the Second Lebanon War. Following the publication of the interim report, which covered the first five days of the war, the prime minister's approval rating plummeted.

In an effort to boost support for the prime minister, Kadima party members loyal to Olmert published a full-page ad in several Israeli newspapers. "Ehud Olmert, we believe in you," it was titled.

At the opening meeting of the Herzliya conference, held for the first time in its history at the Knesset, Rishon LeTziyon Mayor Meri Nitzan, attempted to rally support for Olmert during his remarks.

But the call for early elections continues to grow.

"I joined Kadima because I wanted to see a different kind of politics, but I've been disappointed to see the same old political hackery," said Kadima council member Moshe Konforty.

"Today we have no leader. If Olmert thinks he is so strong, he should put himself up for elections," he said.

Source: The Jerusalem Post

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