CBNNews.com - JERUSALEM, Israel - Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's promise Thursday to resign following Kadima party primaries next week is neither new nor does it mean he'll be leaving office anytime soon.
While many Kadima members have urged him to leave the prime minister's office for good, by law he would remain prime minister until a new government is formed or until there are new general elections.
That could potentially leave him at the helm until March 2009, albeit with the criminal investigations pending against him.
On that score, Israel Police turned over two of six case files this week to State Attorney General Menachem Mazuz, announcing publicly that they've accrued sufficient evidence in both cases to recommend indictments on allegations of fraud, bribery, money laundering and breach of trust.
Money laundering carries a maximum 10-year jail sentence. In early May, Olmert announced that he would resign if indicted.
"If a new government is not formed, the prime minister should give a chance to whoever won the Kadima primary to replace him, especially if there is an indictment from the attorney general," Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit told Jerusalem Post correspondent Gil Hoffman.
Sheetrit is one of four candidates running in the Kadima party primaries. The other three candidates -- Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz and Public Security Minister Avi Dichter -- hope whoever wins can form a coalition rather than having to hold early elections.
"He [Olmert] will stay prime minister only if a government cannot be formed, but the chances of forming a government are increasing everyday," Livni said at a campaign rally this week.
Sources: The Jerusalem Post, Haaretz