Israeli PM says he will step down in two months
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced Wednesday he will resign in September. Olmert's brief address, given at his official Jerusalem residence, included harsh criticism of corruption investigations against him. He said he was choosing the public good over his personal justice. He has consistently denied wrongdoing but vowed to step down if indicted.
In his televised speech, Olmert said, "I was forced to defend myself against relentless attacks from self-appointed 'fighters for justice' who sought to depose me from my position, when the ends sanctified all the means."
Olmert said he would not run in his party's primary election, set for Sept. 17, and would step down afterward "in order to allow the chairman to be elected and form a different government quickly and efficiently."
Olmert pledged to work for peace "as long as I am in my position," and said that talks with Palestinians and Syria are "closer than ever" to achieving understandings.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki said Olmert's decision would change little. "It's true that Olmert was enthusiastic about the peace process, and he spoke about this process with great attention, but this process has not achieved any progress or breakthrough," Malki added, according to the AP. He said the Palestinians would deal with any Israeli government.
Olmert spoke as his delegation to indirect talks with Syria returned from their fourth round in Turkey. The two sides set another round with Turkish mediation for August.