Olmert inclined to reenter political fray

Internal polls show former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert winning 12 Knesset seats in a party with Tzipi Livni.

A political party headed by former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert would win seven Knesset seats, according to internal polls conducted in the past few days on his behalf as he deliberates whether to run in the January elections. The polls also found that if former Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni joined Olmert on the number two slot on the party list, it would win 12 Knesset seats. A political party headed by Livni alone would win 10-14 Knesset seats.

Livni told her aides today that she would not join a party headed by Olmert, but that she would not run against him either. Her aides said that if Olmert decides not to run, she would run at the head of a new party.

After returning to Israel yesterday, Olmert will meet Livni tomorrow to try and find common ground to run together in the same party. Political sources believe that there is little chance that Olmert would run without Livni, which means that Livni will ultimately be the one to run.

Tomorrow, Olmert will resume talks before deciding whether to run. In addition to meeting Livni, he will meet Kadima chairman MK Shaul Mofaz and other associates. Olmert will probably make a decision by early next week. Despite telling MKs that he wants to run, his aides say that no decision has yet been made.

It is not yet clear whether Olmert will be able to recruit top figures who would add value to a new political party, such as Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg, former IDF chief of staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Gabi Ashkenazi, or maybe Better Place Israel CEO Moshe Kaplinsky who left the company today. Alternatively, his ticket might include MKs from Kadima, which the public does not exactly consider as something new. Among the former politicians Olmert is considering are former Labor MKS Avraham Burg and Yuli Tamir.

Another problem facing Olmert is the lack of a coalition to block the right wing from forming a Knesset majority. In the past few weeks, Olmert's aides have contacted Shas and the Labor Party to see if a deal could be reached to recommend him to the president to form a government. Labor Party chairwoman MK Shelly Yachimovich's remarks at a conference in Tel Aviv suggest that this idea is a non-starter. "Anyone who would let such a man return to politics is collaborating in the system's destruction," she said in a barb at Olmert.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on November 14, 2012

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2012

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