Daily Israel Report

Olmert May Remain Prime Minister until March

Olmert may remain Prime Minister until March, letting him seal a pact to free terrorists for Shalit and agree to surrender Jerusalem to the PA.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 2/10/2009, 4:45 PM

Israel News Photo: Flash 90

Israel National News announces all night election coverage, including a live TV broadcast and an up-to-the-minute election results page.

Outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will remain in office at least eight days after Tuesday's election results are announced and may remain in office for up to six weeks while political party leaders try to form a new coalition government.

President Shimon Peres by law must wait eight days until the final results are confirmed and officials finalize decisions on appeals. Next Wednesday, February 18, President Peres will begin the task of deciding who will be given the first chance to form a coalition, a process that can take between several days and 42 days.

Olmert will remain Prime Minister during the interim, despite having officially submitted his resignation in September. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, his successor to lead Kadima, was supposed to take over his job, but she failed to put together a government coalition, forcing the current elections.

Despite being designated as head of a transitional government, the law may allow Prime Minister Olmert to agree to release 1,000 terrorists and open Gaza borders in exchange for a truce with Hamas and the release of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. Arab media have reported that an agreement is imminent, and the Prime Minister has refused to comment.

The law does prohibit him from establishing new policies but allows him to take action if time is of the essence. He could argue that the next government might endanger Shalit's life if a deal is not completed immediately.

The Prime Minister also can continue negotiations with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and even conclude an agreement to offer the PA control of most or even all of eastern Jerusalem. The law most likely would prevent him from implementing the agreement, but his consent would be claimed by the PA and Western countries to be a working paper for the next government.

National Union Knesset Member Uri Ariel told Israel National News on Monday that it will be "very difficult" for the next government not to carry out any agreement that Olmert might make with Hamas for Shalit through Egyptian mediators.
It will be "very difficult" for the next government not to carry out an agreement that Olmert night make with Hamas for Shalit.

Reserve IDF Lt.-Col Meir Indor, head of the Almagor Terror Victims Association, has charged the media with conducting a campaign in tandem with the Shalit family and leftist academics and intellectuals who back freeing terrorists from jail.

Virtually all Israeli media have reported on the supposed deal with Shalit without consulting the advice of security and intelligence officials who oppose the release of terrorists who have carried out murderous attacks on Israelis.

IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi has backed freeing terrorists as a way to prove to soldiers that the government will not abandon them in the field. The army suffered serious damage to its reputation with the government's waging of the 2006 Second Lebanon War against Hizbullah and then ending it without fulfilling promises to bring back home kidnapped IDF soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev.

The two reservists eventually were returned in coffins after Israel several terrorists, including Samir Kuntar of Lebanon, who killed a small child, his father and two others were returned to their comrades, alive and free.