Olmert May Remain Prime Minister Until March


070430_olmert_hmed_130a_hmediumOutgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will remain in office at least eight days after today’s election results are announced and may remain in office for up to six weeks while political party leaders try to form a new coalition government. President Shimon Peres by law must wait eight days until the final results are confirmed and officials finalize decisions on appeals. Next Wednesday, February 18, President Peres will begin the task of deciding who will be given the first chance to form a coalition, a process that can take between several days and 42 days.

Olmert will remain Prime Minister during the interim, despite having officially submitted his resignation in September. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, his successor to lead Kadima, was supposed to take over his job, but she failed to put together a government coalition, forcing the current elections.

Despite being designated as head of a transitional government, the law may allow Prime Minister Olmert to agree to release 1,000 terrorists and open Gaza borders in exchange for a truce with Hamas and the release of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. Arab media have reported that an agreement is imminent, and the Prime Minister has refused to comment.

The law does prohibit him from establishing new policies but allows him to take action if time is of the essence. He could argue that the next government might endanger Shalit’s life if a deal is not completed immediately.

The Prime Minister also can continue negotiations with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and even conclude an agreement to offer the PA control of most or even all of eastern Yerushalayim. The law most likely would prevent him from implementing the agreement, but his consent would be claimed by the PA and Western countries to be a working paper for the next government.

National Union Knesset Member Uri Ariel toldĀ Arutz Sheva yesterday that it will be “very difficult” for the next government not to carry out any agreement that Olmert might make with Hamas for Shalit through Egyptian mediators.

{Yair Alpert-Matzav.com Israel/Arutz Sheva}