Ehud Olmert’s leadership of Israel has been dealt a potentially fatal blow by his main coalition partner. Defence Minister Ehud Barak has called on the Prime Minister to stand down over corruption allegations or face the withdrawal of his Labour party from the government.
He told reporters he did not believe the Prime Minister could run the government at the same time as fighting the case. He added he should step aside for the “good of the country”. Barak also urged Olmert’s Kadima party to change its leader or Labour would push for a new election.
Olmert is currently under investigation over claims he accepted illegal cash gifts from an American businessman to fund his political ambitions.
He has denied any wrongdoing and says he will resign if formally charged. Were Olmert to go it would undermine Israel’s peace talks with the Palestinians. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni would be among the main contenders to replace him.