Cabinet Approves Appointment of Ehud Olmert as Interim PM

PM Ariel Sharon's 'temporarily incapacitated' state to end Friday, after 100 days in the hospital.

The cabinet convened in special session Tuesday, approving by a unanimous vote the appointment of Ehud Olmert as interim prime minister, formally assuming the powers of the stricken Ariel Sharon.

"This coming Friday at midnight will mark 100 days in which Prime Minister Sharon was unable to carry out his role," said Cabinet Secretary Yisrael Maimon at the beginning of the cabinet session.

"According to the law, at the end of 100 days, the government must appoint a minister from his party as the acting prime minister, until the establishment of a new government. The suggestion laid forth today is to appoint the head of the Kadima party, the acting prime minister Ehud Olmert, as the Prime minister in practice."

It was the first time in Israel that the law of succession was invoked to replace an incapacitated prime minister.

Olmert's appointment as interim prime minister will take effect on midnight Friday, 100 days since Sharon was hospitalized with a massive stroke.

The appointment was in line with a decision by Attorney General Menachem Mazuz based on the Basic Law on the Government, and concerning a prime minister unable to perform the duties of office for 100 days.

The special meeting of the cabinet was convened on Tuesday because of the timing of the Passover holiday, which begins Wednesday evening.

Olmert and his wife, Aliza, will be spending Passover up north. The four-day vacation will be Olmert's first since taking over from Sharon on January 4.