As far as Israel’s acting prime minister is concerned, it was business as usual at the weekly cabinet meeting although the absence of Ariel Sharon was all too evident.
Ehud Olmert promised to run matters as Sharon would have wished.
At a press conference in which he avoided the issue of the prime minister’s health, Olmert told reporters he hoped his tenure would be short and Sharon would return quickly.
With parliamentary elections looming in late March the question of whether veteran allies like Olmert can replace Sharon as head of his new Kadima party hangs in the air.
Kadima had been riding high in opinion polls but political analysts say the field could now be wide open, with the place that had been occupied by the prime minister now symbolically as well as physically empty.