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Haim Ramon to Announce Resignation From Knesset

Ex-vice premier to become chairman of the Kadima Council, the opposition party's most important body.

MK Haim Ramon, a former vice premier, is expected to announce Monday his resignation from the Knesset after serving as an MK for 26 years.

Ramon informed Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin of his intention to resign on Sunday, and the pair agreed that he would deliver his last speech in the Knesset on Wednesday.

The veteran lawmaker is leaving the parliament to become the chairman of the Kadima Council, the opposition party's most important body; he has arranged the move with Tzipi Livni, the party chairwoman.

Ramon's departure paves the way for Kadima activist Yulia Smolov-Berkovich to enter the Knesset.

Ramon is one of the most senior politicians in Kadima, but he only reached the 17th spot on the party list in primaries held last September, leading many to believe that he would soon retire from public life.

The rumors that he would retire picked up more steam after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu formed his coalition in government in late March without the Kadima party.

Ramon was found guilty in early 2007 of having committed an indecent act in forcibly kissing a woman soldier. Ramon resigned from the Knesset and was forced to perform community service.

In July 2007 he returned to politics when he joined then prime minister Ehud Olmert's government.