The agreement between the prime minister and the defense minister that prevented a vote this week on dissolving the Knesset and advanced primaries in the Kadima Party neither calmed tempers nor soothed the tense relations between Ehud Olmert and Ehud Barak.
On Wednesday, after the fact, Olmert's associates claimed that Labor Party chairman Barak initiated the compromise because he feared Olmert would fire him immediately, and that on Friday "the sun will be in the meridian, and he'll be a civilian." Barak, the prime minister's confidants added, "ran away like a battered dog."
In conversations with several associates late this week, Olmert said he could work in concert with Barak, because of the serious issues on the agenda, and that he does not intend to settle scores with those who stabbed him in the back.
Olmert also said in those closed forums that he will not forget that while he was sitting with the French president and, the next day, with the Egyptian president, discussing the issues most critical things to Israel, several of his rivals were plotting against him.
In preparation for the primaries in Kadima, slated to wrap up by September 25, Olmert is considering proposing an amendment to the party's charter that would make it easier for him to run, should he decide to do so. The amendment he is reviewing would make the winner of the number-two slot deputy chair of Kadima. In the event that the party chair is forced to quit the position of prime minister, the deputy would automatically become party chair and Kadima would not have to hold another primary election.
What would this amendment mean for Olmert? He would essentially be saying to registered Kadima voters: I want to run, but I know my situation is problematic and I know that after I'm reelected, if I'm reelected, the State Prosecutor's Office might file an indictment against me - and then I'll have to resign. If that happens, you'll have nothing to worry about: The change of guard would be quick and clean, Kadima would not be harmed, it would not be caught unprepared.
On the other hand, Olmert would also be saying, If I don't run, and after a month or two the prosecution decides to close the case against me it won't be fair to me. Therefore sources close to Olmert believe the proposed amendment might solve the problem - both for Olmert, who hinted in a Knesset speech Wednesday that he will run, and for his party.
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