Olmert to Announce Re-election Plans

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CBNNews.com - JERUSALEM, Israel - Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is expected to announce whether he will run again for the leadership of his Kadima Party, now that his party's election committee set an August 24 deadline for candidates vying for the chairmanship.

The prime minister is being investigated for alleged corruption, bribery, fraud and breach of public trust.

According to Jerusalem Post political analyst Gil Hoffman, colleagues close to Olmert said he would have to make a decision soon.

Contenders for Kadima party chairman include Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz, and Public Security Minister Avi Dichter.

Should none of the candidates receive the 40 percent needed to win the election, a runoff will take place on September 24.

Tension has been building among contenders for party leadership, especially because the winner will lead the party's ticket in the next general election. Livni disagreed with remarks by Mofaz that she lacks experience in security-related matters.

"We need a good defense minister and there will be a good defense minister, but security doesn't mean only that you served in the army. It is how you make decisions, plan strategy and think things through," Livni said.

"I am ready to be tested, not only on what I say, but also on what I have done," she said.

Meanwhile, Mofaz said that with the Olmert coalition on the verge of collapse, all further negotiations with the Palestinians should stop.

"At this time of change in the government, we must not reach agreements on the core issues, such as future borders or the status of Jerusalem, in negotiations with the Palestinians," Mofaz said.

"Anything that is decided now is very problematic because it is happening before the change in the government against a background of instability on the Palestinian side," he said.

Mofaz's remarks were directed at Livni, who heads the Israeli delegation in negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, and at the Bush administration, which continues to push Israel into signing a document before the end of his tenure.

Sources: Haaretz, The Jerusalem Post

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