Olmert, Livni Agree to Put Animosity on Hold

Following five tense days in which Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni had essentially severed contact, following a closed session meeting yesterday the two agreed to put their animosity on hold. In a statement issued by the Prime Minister's Bureau following the meeting the two "agreed to continue working together as part of a government headed by Ehud Olmert. The two discussed political subjects at hand and agreed to work to address these issues."

Relations between Olmert and Livni reached crisis levels last week following the publication of the Winograd Committee's report. Livni called on the prime minister to resign, but vowed to stay on as foreign minister. Olmert managed to rally Kadima ministers and MKs to his corner and what appeared to have been an attempt at removing the prime minister was quelled.

Yesterday, Kadima sources described the situation as a "suspended crisis." They said the crisis had not evaporated and anything was still possible, including Livni's dismissal or her resignation. Olmert and Livni met in his office following yesterday's cabinet meeting. The statement released after the meeting was approved by both of them, but its laconic tone suggests that the crisis remains very much alive.

Sources are of the opinion that Livni and Olmert are both interested in preserving the situation at least until the Labor primaries are held, scheduled for May 28.

Olmert, who succeeded in countering the rebellion in his party, is not interested in any further shocks in the party before the uncertainties in Labor, an important coalition party, are clarified.

For her part, Livni indicated in the message that for the time being she is willing to remain in the Olmert government.

Aides to both Kadima leaders were also reserved yesterday and were unwilling to suggest that there had been an Olmert-Livni reconciliation.

Prior to entering the cabinet meeting yesterday, Livni told reporters that her meeting with the prime minister was necessary for work-related reasons and not personal issues. Meanwhile, during the meeting of Kadima ministers, which preceded the cabinet meeting, an effort was made by other ministers to restore calm.

Absorption Minister Ze'ev Boim said that a situation in which there is friction between the prime minister and the foreign minister is nothing new in Israel and pointed out the clashes between David Ben-Gurion and Moshe Sharett.