Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced today that he will not run seek re-election as the leader of his Kadima Party and that he will step down as prime minister to allow the winner of the election to succeed him.
The announcement, which was made during a live television address to the nation Wednesday evening, came just one day after the Kadima Party set Sept. 17 as the date of the primary.
"I have decided that I will not take part in the primary of the Kadima Party and therefore I am not going to take part in the internal election of the party," he said.
"When a new [party] chairman is elected, I will resign as prime minister to allow the new chairman to form a new government quickly," Olmert continued. "I believe that there is a public basis for such a government and that it will be created shortly."
General elections are expected next spring.
In announcing his decision from his official Jerusalem residence, Olmert spoke of the corruption scandal that continues to surround him. He said that during his political career he has made mistakes for which he is sorry, but he insisted that all of the facts surrounding the current scandal have not yet been revealed.
"My decision [to resign as prime minister] is not taken because I’m bitter," he insisted.