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POLITICAL TSUNAMI SWEEPING ISRAEL

Labor Party Cabinet Minister Eitan Kabel Resigns Saying : 'Prime Minister Ehud Olmert Must Resign!'

Israeli Protesters Begin Begin Marching To Tel Aviv & Jerusalem

Demanding Resignation of Olmert & Defense Minister Amir Peretz

MK Eitan Kabel

A political tsunami is now sweeping Israel after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz declared they will not resign after the Winograd Enquiry condemned their conduct of the Second Lebanon War. Labor Party Cabinet Minister Eitan Kabel has resigned declaring that he could no longer serve in a cabinet lead by Olmert. Israelis from different parts of Israel for a big protest demonstration against the government in Tel Aviv on Thursday night. IsraCast reports that both Olmert and Peretz appear to be on borrowed time as they face a growing wave of protest.

Have the dominos started to fall? Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is now facing an uphill struggle to remain in office. A Labor Party cabinet minister Eitan Kabel has resigned declaring : ' I can no longer serve in the cabinet of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. The Winograd Enquiry found that Olmert bears both ministerial and personal responsibility for the conduct of the war and he must resign!' Kabel, who supports Ehud Barak in the race for Labor party leadership, also called on Barak to announce that he will take Labor out of the government if he wins the party primary on May 28th. The other Labor front runner Ami Ayalon also called on Olmert to resign saying:' You no longer enjoy the public's confidence'. At his dramatic news conference, Kabel also appealed to Olmert's two other coalition partners to ' internalize the unequivocal findings of the Winograd panel and to force Olmert to resign '.

Meanwhile, although cabinet ministers of Olmert's ruling Kadima party, have rallied around Olmert, his main rival Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni has remained silent saying she wants to study the findings. However, Livni is obviously trying to buy time, testing the direction the winds the political winds are blowing. In expressing support for Olmert, Kadima cabinet minister Meir Sheetrit said: ' This is not the time to make heads roll. Let the public decide'. And he added that the easiest thing for the Prime Minister would be get up this morning and quit saying ' after me the deluge'. But there are reports of growing unrest in Kadima. Minister of Public Security Avi Dichter, who is close to Livni, was luke warm in praising Olmert when they both appeared at a ceremony for the new Police Commissioner. In his address, Olmert looking tired and wan may no reference to his current crisis. If there is a move inside Kadima to oust Olmert it would be aimed at naming either Livni or Shimon Peres to take over as party leader and subsequently to become the new prime minister. There is a precedent - when Prime minister Menachem Begin resigned the Likud elected Yitzhak Shamir to replace him and the Likud- led coalition carried on without a new election. This would probably enable Kadima to continue the current coalition government with Labor, Lieberman's Israel Is Our Home and Shas. Lieberman has said: ' This is not the time for an early election '.So although most political parties except the Likud do not support an early election, Labor's message is that after May 28th primary , a new leader will part company with Olmert leading to the coalition's collapse. The fact that Labor will be able to replace Amir Peretz with either Barak or Ayalon, a former general and admiral, is another enticement for Kadima to dump Olmert and gain a respected defense minister; something that would also improve Kadima's image.

In another development, private citizens and non- profit groups are petitioning the Supreme Court demanding its intervention on the issue of why the Prime Minister should not resign in light of the Winograd's searing report. Moreover, Israelis from different parts of the country Israelis have started marching to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem for protest demonstrations against Olmert and Peretz.

David Essing

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