Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is not going anywhere. Although he has not yet formally announced a return to politics, it was announced on Wednesday that he will be part of the committee that will select the Kadima party’s candidates for the next Knesset.
Kadima decided last month to cancel the party's planned primaries and instead appoint a committee to select its list for the next Knesset. Currently the Knesset's largest faction with 28 seats, Kadima is expected to lose most of its power in the next election. Many of its MKs have already announced they would not be running in the next election or have moved to other parties.
Along with Olmert, the committee will be made up of current Kadima chairman Shaul Mofaz and the mayor of the city of Akko, Shimon Lankry, a close friend of Olmert’s. Lankry recently predicted that Olmert will announce his return to politics and “will be the next prime minister.”
While Olmert will be a part of the selection committee, it remains to be seen whether he will also decide to head Kadima in January’s election. He has been contemplating a return to politics for a while, but still faces an appeal by the prosecution over the light verdict and sentence he was given by the Jerusalem District Court in July, as well as charges of bribery in the Holyland apartment project, re-zoned for construction when he was mayor of Jerusalem.
The announcement that Olmert will be part of Kadima’s selection committee came one day after the party’s former chairwoman, Tzipi Livni, announced that she is running for the Knesset at the head of a new party, called “The Movement”.
Livni’s decision to form a new party rather than accept offers to join Labor or Yesh Atid (Future) seems to be a gift for Prime Minister Netanyahu. A poll released on Wednesday found that if elections were held today, Livni and her party would win a grand total of seven seats, at the expense of Labor, which dropped by five seats in the polls, and Yesh Atid, which also is down five seats from previous polls.
Kadima would achieve two seats, according to the poll.
The poll also found that Livni would not take many seats, if at all, from the joint Likud-Yisrael Beytenu list, as she is hoping to do. The Likud Beytenu would win 40 seats, according to the poll.