JERUSALEM (JTA)—Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has submitted his letter of resignation to President Shimon Peres
Olmert visited the president’s official residence in Jerusalem Sunday evening to deliver the letter.
“This is not an easy decision, and I am convinced that this is a difficult evening for him,” Peres said following the meeting. “I wish to take this opportunity to thank the prime minister for his service to the people and the state over the course of many years of public activities: as the mayor of Jerusalem, as a minister in the government and as the prime minister of Israel.”
Peres will meet with the heads of the party factions and give one of them, most likely Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, up to 42 days to form a new coalition government. He was scheduled to meet Sunday night with the Kadima Party, which is led by Livni after her narrow primary victory last week.
At the weekly Cabinet meeting Sunday morning, Olmert told his Cabinet that he would resign.
“I must say that this was not an easy or simple decision,” he told the Cabinet. “I think that I have acted properly and responsibly, as I promised the Israeli public from the beginning.”
Olmert congratulated Livni and said he would help her to form a coalition government. Livni has said she plans to form a new government by the start of the winter session on Oct. 27.
Olmert will remain the head of a caretaker government until a new coalition is formed or until after new general elections if agreement on a coalition government cannot be reached.
Livni and Olmert at Cabinet meeting Sunday (screen grab from Israel Channel 2 News)