Olmert heads to US leaving behind corruption scandal

Leaders of Israel's governing Kadima party plan to meet in as little as a week to decide on an internal ballot that could replace Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Olmert heads to US leaving behind corruption scandal
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert heads to Washington today, leaving behind a government divided by a corruption scandal that is clouding the prospects for a peace agreement with the Palestinians.

Olmert will be in Washington Monday night, in order to facilitate the Israeli Air Force purchase of new F-35 fighter jets, Israeli media reported.

Olmert is said to also further several other arm deals for various long-range radars, for Israel's multi-layered rocket systems.

A Lockheed Martin Aeronautics jet, the F-35 – or F-35 Lightning II, as it is officially called – is a single-seat, single-engine stealth-fighter jet; meant to eventually take over for the F-16.

Israel intends to install sever Israeli-made systems in its F-35s, which are expected to become operational in four years, reports said.

Olmert is also expected to address Iran.

Olmert is scheduled to meet US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, on Wednesday meet with US President George W. Bush and dine with Vice President Richard Cheney.

Olmert will also visit each of the Democratic Party's presidential hopefuls - Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Olmert's fate after US trip

Lawmaker Tzachi Hanegbi, head of Kadima's central committee, told Israel Radio on Friday that Kadima delegates would convene a meeting on a leadership ballot after Olmert returns from a visit to the United States at the end of next week.

Kadima sources said Olmert wants his centrist party to put off any such vote for months, hoping to ride out the police investigation into allegations he accepted envelopes filled with cash from a Jewish-American businessman.

Olmert has denied wrongdoing but has said he would resign if indicted. The turmoil threatens to derail U.S.-backed peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 02 Haziran 2008, 12:47