Lawmakers Responding Hot and Cold to PM's Resignation Announcement

Lawmakers yesterday reacted to news that Ehud Olmert would step down as prime minister in September, some welcoming the departure of a "failed and corrupt" politician while others lamenting the loss of "one of Israel's finest prime minister."

MK Arieh Eldad of the right-wing National Union lambasted Olmert and his administration, calling him "the most failed and corrupt leader in the history of Israel."

He added: "It's the only good news we have heard from Olmert during his tenure."

Likud MK and former Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin yesterday reacted by saying that Olmert's announcement was long over due. "Olmert should have drawn the conclusions six months ago," Rivlin said. "His tenure will be remembered as chaotic and a political farce."

Meanwhile, Kadima MKs yesterday lamented Olmert's announcement to step down as prime minister and head of the faction. "The Israeli public lost one of its finest prime ministers and a true leader," MK Otniel Schneller of Kadima said, adding that Olmert had scored many successes in the "political-diplomatic arena."

Still, members of coalition parties responded with a degree of caution to the announcement and spoke about the possibility of forming a new coalition government. Labor MK and party secretary Eitan Cabel focused on the political repercussions of Olmert's decision to step down. "Under the current circumstances that exist in the Knesset, it will be hard to form an alternative coalition and the possibility of an election is still on the agenda," Cabel said.

His fellow partisan Deputy Foreign Minister MK Raleb Majadele also spoke about what will happen once Olmert resigns, saying that Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni of Kadima was the only candidate who could create a coalition government without calling for new elections. "She is the only one worthy of succeeding Olmert and [former prime minister Ariel] Sharon," he said.

Other lawmakers, however, like National Religious Party Chairman, MK Zevulun Orlev called for the Knesset to be dissolved and for elections to be held as soon as possible."

"An agreed date of new elections should be decided and the Knesset should be dissolved during the summer break," Orlev said.