The Kadima party council, after 12 days, gathered a majority of 91 to vote to amend the party's by-laws and set leadership primaries in September. The decision gives Prime Minister Ehud Olmert eight more weeks to lead the government before being replaced - unless he decides to take on his challengers.

His popularity is waning, and the ongoing criminal investigation against him has made it increasingly unlikely that he will put his hat back in the ring and risk losing.

The primaries will be held after the second week of September, with a run-off, if necessary, the following week. Ministers Tzipi Livni, Shaul Mofaz, Avi Dichter and Meir Sheetrit have announced they will seek the leadership. Foreign Minister Livni has a narrow lead over Transportation Minister Mofaz in the polls.

She and Public Security Minister Dichter have been the major movers in trying to gather a majority of council members to approve new party elections. The Foreign Minister and the Prime Minister have had an increasingly cold relationship, and he has made it clear that he does not want her to take over the party.

Channel Two television reported Monday night that he viciously attacked her verbally in a private conversation, calling her a liar for her testimony before the Winograd Committee that investigated the government's handling of the Second Lebanon War.

He reportedly said, "She cannot make decisions." One of her aides responded to the report by saying, "So he said it. So what?"