Israel’s under-fire Prime Minister has put an end to months of speculation, and has formally announced his resignation.
He is expected to be followed as leader of the government by his Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.
Swamped by allegations of corruption and bribery – which he vehemently denies – Olmert bowed to the inevitable and told his cabinet that he would go.
“Today, at this cabinet meeting, I announce my decision to resign from the position of Prime Minister of Israel. I will say it has not been an easy or simple decision, and it was not made in haste, nor without personal and emotional consideration. I think I am behaving in the proper and responsible manner which I have always shown to the Israeli public.”
He then shook Livni’s hand. The formal quitting process is now underway, with Olmert having sent an official a letter of resignation to President Shimon Peres.
Tzipi Livni won a close internal election to lead the Kadima party, and thus become the next Prime Minister. She is now trying to piece together a coalition government, but if she fails a general election looms, one which the polls say the opposition Likud party of Benjamin Netanyahu is favoured to win.