Olmert to run for Knesset in next election

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 25, 2013

Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert announced in a meeting in London two weeks ago that he is aiming to secure the top job in Israeli politics once again.

At a charity fundraising dinner held at the Goldman Sachs offices in Canary Wharf, Mr Olmert welcomed the success of Yesh Atid and other new political forces in January’s Knesset election.

Despite that, he said, “the problem with the last elections was that no-one ran against Netanyahu for prime minister”, and announced his intention to take the fight to Mr Netanyahu next time around.

Mr Olmert did not say which party he would run for, but it is widely assumed that he will rejoin Kadima, the party he founded along with Ariel Sharon.

Kadima, led now by Shaul Mofaz, won only two Knesset seats in the last elections. A prime ministerial campaign could also pit Mr Olmert against his old friend and protégé Yair Lapid, who is now Yesh Atid leader and the new finance minister. Mr Lapid has spoken of running against Benjamin Netanyahu in the next election.

Before he runs, however, Mr Olmert still has to deal with his legal troubles. The Jerusalem District Court acquitted him of two charges of corruption last year but found him guilty of breach of trust on a third. He has yet to be sentenced, and the state prosecutor is appealing against the acquittals. In addition, he is still on trial in the Holyland bribery case, although there is a chance the charges may be dropped following the death of a state witness.

The fundraising event was held by New Spirit, a civil society movement promoting Jerusalem’s student life and assisting the city’s young population.

CEO Elisheva Mazia confirmed that Mr Olmert had been the speaker at their event in London and that the organisation had paid for his flight and hotel in London. Mr Olmert’s spokesman, Amir Dan, said that the former prime minister would not respond to the report.

Last updated: 3:45pm, April 25 2013