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Rightwing parties in Israel push for early poll after Ehud Olmert resigns

Toni O’Loughlin
London Guardian [1]
Friday, Aug 1, 2008

Israel’s ultra nationalist parties yesterday seized on Ehud Olmert’s decision to stand aside as prime minister to push for an early election, which would most likely return the hawkish Likud leader, Binyamin Netanyahu, to the helm.

While Olmert’s decision has thrown Kadima, his centrist party, and the nation into turmoil, Israel’s rightwing parties appeared to galvanise in calling for an end to the coalition government.

Netanyahu, a former prime minister who was also dogged by corruption allegations but nevertheless has led the polls as a potential prime minister for months, said: “This government has reached an end. National responsibility requires a return to the people and new elections.”

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Netanyahu’s comments were backed by several members of other rightwing parties, making it clear that whoever replaced Olmert in Kadima’s September leadership ballot would face an uphill battle in obtaining their cooperation in government.

A Knesset member, Ariek Eldad of the National Union party, attacked Olmert as “the most failed and corrupt leader in the history of Israel”.

Indeed the wall of opposition was mounting even before Olmert’s snap announcement that he was resigning in response to the growing number of corruption investigations into his affairs.

Just hours before he resigned on Wednesday, the Knesset passed dozens of bills, adding to the pressure on the budget.

Full article here [1]