When Ehud Olmert announced on Wednesday evening he will be stepping down as Israel’s prime minister and the leader of the Qadima party, the main contenders to replace him were both out of the country. Transport Minister Shaul Mofaz, a former chief of military staff, and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni both said Olmert had made the right decision. The two were in Washington for talks on the Iranian and Palestinian issues respectively. A third minister, Ehud Barak, who heads the Labor Party, was also in the American capital. He also welcomed Olmert’s announcement. Olmert said he was quitting because of the ongoing investigations into his alleged financial irregularities. He will leave office when Qadima holds its leadership election, which is slated for September. There are two other declared runners in the party-leadership race: ministers Avi Dichter and Meir Sheetrit.
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