Olmert, Ehud

(1945- )
   Born on 30 September 1945 in Nahalat Jabotinsky (today part of Binyamina), he is one of the "princes" of the Likud Party, the son of former Irgun fighter and Herut member of the Knesset (MK) Mordechai Olmert. After army service, he received a B.A. in psychology and a law degree from Hebrew University of Jerusalem and was elected to the Knesset in 1973 on the Likud list. He became minister without portfolio in the government established in December 1988 and minister of health in the June 1990 government. He was returned to the Knesset on the Likud list in 1992 and 1996 and elected mayor of Jerusalem in November 1993, ousting the long-time incumbent, Teddy Kollek. Reelected as mayor in November 1998, he was compelled (by a new law) to relinquish his seat in the 14th Knesset. Following the May 1999 election to the 15th Knesset, he declared his candidacy to replace Benjamin Netanyahu as leader of the Likud Party but was defeated in the leadership vote by Ariel Sharon on 2 September 1999.
   After being reelected to the 16th Knesset in 2003, Olmert resigned his position as mayor of Jerusalem. In February 2003, he was appointed vice premier and minister of industry, trade, and labor, as well as minister of communications, in the 30th government of Israel headed by Sharon. He relinquished the communications portfolio to Labor MK Dalia Itzik on 10 January 2005. As vice premier, Olmert was a forceful proponent of Sharon's disengagement plan in the Likud Party, the coalition government, and the Knesset. He was appointed finance minister in the late summer of 2005, replacing Netanyahu, who resigned on the eve of the implementation of the disengagement.
   Olmert was the most senior Likud MK and cabinet minister to bolt the party and join Sharon in the new centrist Kadima Party announced on 21 November 2005. As vice premier, Olmert became acting prime minster and interim leader of the Kadima Party following the massive stroke suffered by Prime Minister Sharon on 4 January 2006. Olmert led the new Kadima Party in the 28 March 2006 Knesset election, where it won 29 seats. Olmert then formed the coalition that became Israel's 31st government on May 2006, and he became prime minister. Despite explicit criticisms of his leadership during the Second Lebanon War (2006) raised by the Winograd Commission and record single-digit popularity ratings resulting in part from enduring questions about his personal integrity, Olmert and his government continued to function throughout much of 2007. Olmert announced on 29 October 2007 that he had early-stage prostate cancer but said the cancer was not life threatening and would not distract him from his work.
   On 27 November 2007, Olmert participated in an international conference sponsored by the United States at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, and joined with Palestine Liberation Organization chairman and Palestinian Authority president Mah-moud Abbas in announcing the commencement of a process of direct negotiations leading to the realization of Israeli-Palestinian peace based on the two-state formula envisioned by U.S. president George W. Bush and in the Quartet's Roadmap.

Historical Dictionary of Israel. .

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  • OLMERT, EHUD — (1945– ), Israeli politician, mayor of Jerusalem 1993–2003, member of the Eighth to Fourteenth and Sixteenth Knessets, and prime miniter from 2006. Olmert was born in Nahalat Jabotinsky. His father, Mordechai Olmert, was a Knesset Member on… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

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