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Barak is having a press conference at 8AM EST–more to come then:

Barak says Olmert cannot stay in office Defense Minister Ehud Barak says he believes prime minister cannot run government, his personal affairs at the same time. In special press conference, he calls on Olmert to detatch himself from management of State immediately Roni Sofe I believe the prime minister cannot run the government and his personal affairs at the same time, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said in a special press conference Wednesday afternoon on the backdrop of the recent political crisis. “The prime minister must detach himself from the management of the government. He can do so in a variety of ways, which will not be determined by us,” Barak said. The Labor chairman briefed his faction members on his remarks several minutes before the press conference. He told them that he would call on the prime minister to leave office.
Earlier, Barak told Olmert that he cannot stay in office, as the two met for about an hour at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem. The meeting was held following the recent developments in the police investigation launched against the prime minister and Olmert’s fear that the Labor Party chairman will call on him to take leave of absence in light of key witness Moriss Talansky’s pre-trial deposition Tuesday. Labor minister: Olmert must take leave of absence / Roni Sofer Members of Kadima’s main partner in coalition call on Defense Minister Barak to declare that prime minister must leave office following US businessman Talansky’s pre-trial deposition. Senior minister: Israel’s problems are too serious to leave the situation as it is Barak was expected to hold a press conference Wednesday afternoon and call on the Olmert to find a way to leave office. At this stage it is unclear whether he would urge him to take a vacation or a leave of absence. The defense minister does not rule out the possibility of early elections should the prime minister decide to ignore the Labor Party’s call. Wednesday’s meeting was held following a National Security Cabinet discussion. As Barak prepared to return to the Knesset and prepare for his press conference, Olmert summed him to his office. A large number of politicians have called on Barak to declare that the prime minister must leave office following Talansky’s testimony. A senior Labor minister told Ynet earlier that the party must lead a move of leave of absence by the prime minister in order to allow the State to function. “The problems of a sick woman of a certain person cannot shake an entire country for a month and a half, and who knows for how long,” the minister said, addressing the expected delay in the legal proceedings due to key witness Morris Talanky’s desire to fly back to the United States to see his ill wife. “The State Prosecutor’s Office must speed up its work. The problems Israel is facing are too serious to leave the situation as it is,” the minister said. Ministers call on Kadima to ‘take responsibility’Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said Wednesday morning that “Kadima must take responsibility and make difficult decisions. I am not ruling out an election campaign. The problem is of a person who I hope manages to prove his innocence and is acquitted. The problem is Kadima’s and Olmert’s.” Minister Ami Ayalon told Ynet that “the prime minister cannot stay in office.” He said that Israel’s citizens had the right to have a prime minister who is capable of governing. “He should draw the necessary conclusions from Morris Talansky’s deposition. If he fails to do this – the Labor party will work towards pushing up the elections,” Ayalon said.
Dramatic voices were also heard among members of the prime minister’s party. Knesset Member Amira Dotan (Kadima) sent a letter to Olmert, calling on him to vacate his office in favor of “an alternative leadership which will advance the State’s affairs.” MK Dotan wrote in the letter, “Mr. Talansky’s testimony still echoes in my years and requires a public leadership statement. We must serve as an example for values and norms which are what gained us the public’s trust.”

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