PM focuses on Winograd, lawmakers call for his resignation
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert believes it will take time to turn the State Comptroller's recommendations into a criminal investigation and is concentrating his efforts on the day after the release of the Winograd Committee's interim report, which is set for Monday.
Olmert is also troubled by Labor's leadership primaries, due on May 28. He hopes Ehud Barak will win and enable him to form a broad, stable coalition, which would give him more time in office.
If Ami Ayalon or Amir Peretz are elected Labor leader, Olmert could find himself without Labor in the coalition. He sees this as a much greater threat than the comptroller's report.
"Olmert already has the image of a wheeler-dealer, so the latest report makes no difference. The next tests are the Winograd report, which he believes he will survive, and the primaries," an associate of Olmert's said.
MK Ophir Pines-Paz (Labor) commented, "Labor must immediately leave Olmert's government." Pines, who is running for leadership of the Labor Party, said that the Olmert government is barely surviving, and is going nowhere. He called the report "another nail in the [government's] coffin."
Meretz chair Yossi Beilin called for Olmert's immediate resignation to make room for a prime minister "who can find the time to deal with the national and social challenges standing before Israel."
Knesset State Control Committee chair MK Zevulun Orlev (National Religious Party) said he would ask the prime minister to attend a committee session on the report on the Investment Center.
"The report points to suspicions of serious corruption and the prime minister has no choice but to suspend himself," he said.
Former education minister Limor Livnat (Likud) said Olmert's "merciless attack on the comptroller must be rejected out of hand."