13:49 Israel Time: Defense Minister Ehud Barak made a statement to the press from the Knesset at 13:30 giving Prime Minister Ehud Olmert an ultimatum.
In his well-articulated brief statement, Barak explained Israel currently faces many challenges and threats, from Hamas, Syria, Iran and Hizbullah, and as such, he does not believe that the prime minister is capable of dealing with these crucial issues as he also juggles his personal affairs.
As such, Barak stated the prime minister must remove himself from government matters, and he alone must choose exactly how he wishes to do this, using one of the options available to him. (This would include suspension, resignation or taking a leave). Barak stated the Kadima Party has some difficult decisions to make and they must be made.
Barak added that if the prime minister does not distance himself from running the nation, then the Labor Party will act towards deciding on a date for early elections.
When asked how much time Labor will permit Olmert to comply, Barak stated “quickly”.
Barak also expressed his hope that the prime minister will be cleared of all alleged wrongdoing.
(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)