Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will announce his return to politics within days, the mayor of the city of Akko predicted on Monday.
Speaking at a conference in Jerusalem, Akko Mayor Shimon Lankry, a close friend of Olmert, said, “Ehud Olmert will announce in the next few days his return to the political arena and will run in the next election. I think Olmert will be the next prime minister.”
Lankry later spoke to Army Radio, where he affirmed his comments and said he believed Olmert will announce his return by next Monday. He also expressed hope that Olmert will include former IDF Chief of Staff Gab Ashkenazi on the Knesset list he’ll form.
“Ashkenazi is an amazing and great guy, and I think Olmert will take him into account,” said Lankry.
Olmert has been sitting on the fence for quite a while and contemplating whether he should run in the Knesset elections next January.
He was acquitted by the Jerusalem District Court of most of the serious charges he faced but was found guilty of breach of trust. The prosecution has appealed the verdict as well as the light sentence given to Olmert for the one offense for which he was found guilty. The former Prime Minister still faces charges of bribery in the Holyland apartment project, re-zoned for construction when he was mayor of Jerusalem.
Olmert has been preparing for a possible election run by lashing out at Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu several times over the past few weeks.
At a conference of the World Jewish Congress in the United States last week, Olmert accused Netanyahu of intervening in the U.S. elections “on behalf of an American billionaire," referring to philanthropist Sheldon Adelson, one of Republican candidate Mitt Romney's greatest supporters and a close friend of Netanyahu's.
He added, “After what Netanyahu did in recent months, the question that arises is whether our Prime Minister has a friend in the White House. I'm not sure that he does and this could be very significant for us at critical points.”
Adelson fired back at Olmert in his Yisrael Hayom newspaper on Sunday.
“It is convenient to forget that I also am a close friend of Shimon Peres, Elie Wiesel and Alan Dershowitz, who is a solid supporter of President Obama,” Adelson wrote. “Netanyahu does not obey my orders more than any of my other friends.
“Olmert is granting me power I simply do not have,” wrote Adelson, adding, “In trying to understand Olmert’s claim, I can only conclude that he still holds a grudge against the newspaper" for its publicizing a series of article in criminal probes that were followed by a sharp dive in his popularity before he was forced to resign.
"Olmert has a right to manage his own political campaign, but he must come up with something more that conspiracy theories if wants to remove Netanyahu,” according to Adelson.
A report on Monday said that Olmert is scheduled to return on Tuesday from his trip to the United States and announce his plans. The former Kadima party chief's final determining factor is what polls say about his chances, said the report.