Olmert: I'll Dissolve Coalition Before Replacing Justice Min. Friedmann

PM lashed out at Labor coalition members who called for Friedmann's replacement.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert lashed out Monday against his Labor coalition partners, after party leaders called for sacking Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann.

Olmert told reporters that he would rather break up the coalition than give in to Labor's demand to replace Friedmann, whose proposed judicial reforms have often sparked controversy.

"I am the head of the [Kadima] party and if someone thinks they can force us to sack someone as part of a coalition agreement, they are wrong," Olmert said. "If I have to pick between Professor Daniel Friedmann and Ehud Barak, then I pick Professor Friedmann. I suggest nobody try to intimidate Kadima. We are the largest party. If someone tries to dictate from the bottom of the pile, we'll tell him we are not afraid."

Olmert made the remarks during a Kadima party meeting on a bill proposed by Friedmann, calling for the increased separation of powers between the attorney general and the state prosecutor. Vice Premier Haim Ramon, who also attended the meeting, said the bill is intended to resolve the alleged conflict of interest inherent in the current system.

"A minister needs to base his decision on the recommendations of the attorney general, who in theory can indict him," Ramon said. "A person in that position can become corrupt with power, and no comparable example exists anywhere in the world."

The minister said that the bill has been welcomed by most of Israeli academia.

"Only a group of former attorneys general in the Supreme Court are opposed to it, and even they say they are against it because of the timing," Ramon said. "But the timing is never good."