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Israeli Prime Minister Submits Resignation To President


Ehud Olmert
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has submitted his resignation to the country's president amid a corruption scandal that has been hovering over him for months.

Olmert told his cabinet on September 21 that he will "resign the office of prime minister of the state of Israel," but he will remain in office in a caretaker capacity for a few more weeks until a new government can be formed.

That formalizes a plan he announced in July to step down once a new leader for his Kadima Party was chosen.

His party chose a new leader, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, on September 17, clearing the way for Olmert's move.

Livni won the leadership of the party by beating her closest rival, Transport Minister Shaul Mofaz, by just 1.1 percent.

Olmert said on September 21 he will "stand by" Livni. He is expected to remain as a caretaker prime minister until a new government is established through a coalition deal or a parliamentary election.

Livni will have six weeks from that time to form a new government. Should she fail, new elections would be called for early 2009, a year and-a-half ahead of schedule.

A number of police investigations are focusing on Olmert's financial dealings in the years before he became prime minister.

Police have recommended he be indicted on charges that include bribery and money laundering, but prosecutors have not decided whether to press charges. Olmert denies any wrongdoing.

-- with agency reports