Israel’s Olmert struggles

From Reuters

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s government survived three no-confidence motions in parliament Monday, even though one of them saw a majority voting against him for the first time.

One motion was approved by 41 votes to 40 after Olmert’s Shas coalition partner boycotted the vote.

But under Israeli law, 61 votes are needed to pass a no-confidence motion, which would lead to the dissolution of the 120-member parliament and herald new elections.


Local media reported that legislators from Shas, an Orthodox Jewish party, stayed away from the vote in protest of the appointment of a legislator from the Labor Party, Olmert’s main coalition partner, as head of parliament’s powerful finance committee.

The result cast further doubt on whether Olmert would survive a police investigation into allegations that he took bribes from an American Jewish businessman.

The veteran politician denies any wrongdoing but has said he would step down if indicted.

His Kadima party is to hold an internal vote in September that could replace him.

Lawyers for Olmert on Monday demanded an investigation into the leaking of transcripts of his police interrogation in the corruption case against him. The transcript was published Sunday by Israel’s Maariv daily newspaper.

U.S. fundraiser Morris Talansky testified in May that he had given $150,000 in cash-stuffed envelopes to Olmert, a former Jerusalem mayor, over a 15-year period. Olmert and Talansky have denied wrongdoing.