Prime Minister Ehud Olmert Resigns

September 21, 2008

Amid charges of corruption and financial improprieties, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert resigns his position. Olmert had announced in July he would resign following the elections for a new Kadima party leader which took place on September 17th.   The newly elected Kadima party leader, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, was tasked with trying to form a government on September 22 by Israel’s President Shimon Peres.

Talks between Livni and potential coalition partners proved difficult.  After a month passed without a new government in place, Livni was given a two-week extension.   Despite the extension, on October 26th, Livni informed Peres that she was unable to form a new government and that new elections were necessary.  Livni informed the press, “I have exhausted the process.  I could have stood here today and presented a government.  I was willing to pay a certain price to form a government, but I wasn’t willing to mortgage the economic and the political future of the State of Israel and sacrifice the hope for a better future and different politics.”

New elections were held in February 2009. Despite Kadima winning a narrow majority with 28 seats to Likud’s 27 seats, President Shimon Peres gave Likud’s leader Benjamin Netanyahu the first attempt to form the new government because more Knesset leaders endorsed him for the premiership.  In May 2014, Olmert was sentenced to six years in prison for bribery and corruption, but on appeal it was reduced to 27 months. One month was added in a separate trial, and in July 2017, he was released from prison after having served two-thirds of his sentence. A separate case was opened against him following the discovery that while in jail he had shared classified documents with his lawyer and publisher during the writing of his autobiography, but the Attorney General decided to close that case in 2018 since the parties had been in close contact with the military’s censor.

The photo shows Ehud Olmert handing in his resignation to President Shimon Peres on September 21, 2008.