On the eve of his acquittal of most corruption charges against him, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said he was thinking of seeking his old job and that political newcomer Yair Lapid would join him.
The Jerusalem District Court acquitted Olmert this week in the so-called Rishon Tours and cash-envelopes affairs, but found him guilty of breach of trust for improperly working to secure grants and tax breaks in the Investment Center case.
Speaking to associates on the eve of the court's verdict, Olmert accurately predicted that he would be acquitted of most charges and convicted of breach of trust in the Investment Center affair.
Asked how he would act if he is acquitted in the Holyland case - another affair where Olmert is facing charges - Olmert reportedly told associates, "I'll return to political life and run for prime minister. I'm the only politician who can run as a candidate for the center bloc. There's no one else there - neither Shaul Mofaz nor Yair Lapid nor Shelly Yacimovich [can do it]."
Olmert was asked what he thought his good friend Lapid would do, after the former TV personality formed the party Yesh Atid with the intention of heading it in the next elections. "Yair will come with me," Olmert reportedly told more than one person in the past week.
This raises the question of whether Olmert and Lapid have agreed for Lapid to drop his designs on the premiership and support Olmert if the former prime minister throws his hat in the ring.
Olmert's aides declined to comment on the quote attributed to him. Lapid also declined to comment.
Most Israelis, however, apparently disagree with the sentiments attributed to Olmert. According to Channel 10, an opinion poll supervised by Tel Aviv University's Camil Fuchs says only 22 percent of Israelis believe Olmert should return to politics. Seventy percent believe he should not.
Only 11 percent of the respondents said they would vote for the centrist Kadima party if Olmert returned to head it, while 78 percent said they would not vote for the party.
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