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Ruling party 'must be ready' to replace Olmert

  • Story Highlights
  • NEW: Tzipi Livni warns Kadima it must to be ready to replace Olmert
  • Remarks come a day after Defense Minister called for Olmert to step down
  • Defense chief: Olmert can't run Israel "and take care of his personal situation"
  • Olmert targeted by five inquiries in two years, never convicted of wrongdoing
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JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israel's foreign minister warned the ruling Kadima party Thursday that it must be prepared to replace Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who is embroiled in a corruption probe, an aide said.

Ehud Olmert

Olmert alleged to have taken illegal funds and bribes. The prime minister says money was for campaign

Tzipi Livni said Kadima "needs to prepare itself for every scenario, including elections ... the reality has changed after yesterday, and Kadima needs to decide what it is doing. We cannot ignore the events of the last days," the aide said.

"The matter is not only a legal one," according to the remarks passed along by Livni's aide. She said the issue "is what is criminal and what is not, and not just the personal matter of the premier."

Livni, a top rival and Kadima colleague of Olmert, made the remarks a day after Defense Minister Ehud Barak called for Olmert to step down. Earlier this week, an American businessman testified that he gave cash-filled envelopes to Olmert.

Barak, a former prime minister whose Labor party is Kadima's coalition partner, said Labor will pursue new elections if Olmert doesn't step down. He said Olmert can't run the government properly with the corruption probe persisting.

He said that party "must choose its way and its head. And with the person that replaces him there, we will consider joining hands."


Livni, too, is a proponent of Kadima party primaries, the aide said.

Olmert has said he would only resign if he is indicted on corruption charges. He has not responded to Barak's call for him to step down.

All About IsraelEhud Olmert

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