Assuming that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert keeps his word and submits his resignation to President Shimon Peres following the Kadima primaries, it is likely that he will continue in office as the prime minister of the transition government. Olmert can declare himself ‘disabled’ or just incapable of continuing and step down, but this is highly unlikely. In the event he actually leaves office, the victor in the Kadima election would assume the helm of the transition government.
Just how long the transition government will rule depends in part how successful the new Kadima leader is in forming a new government. The person will have 28 days and if the president wishes, he may extend the mandate for another 14 days. Mr. Peres will meet with heads of parties to decide who has the best chance to form a government. The president is compelled to make this decision within 7 days of receiving the prime minister’s resignation.
Should efforts to form a government fail, Peres may then give the mandate to another party leader, who may also have up to 28 days to assemble a coalition government. During this period of time, 61 MKs may turn to the president to suggest their candidate to assemble a coalition. The president is compelled to accept the candidate, and does not have the option of declining the offer. This candidate would have 14 days to assemble a coalition. Should this candidate also fail, the president notifies the Knesset speaker and national elections must be held within 90 days.
Therefore, in theory, an Olmert-led transition government could continue running the nation for another 180 days.
(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)