Agence France Presse (AFP)
July 30, 2008 - 3:28pm

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni confirmed publicly for the first time on Tuesday she wanted to become prime minister, saying the public needed leaders who respect the law.

"I want to be prime minister ... in order to carry out changes and corrections because (the public) no longer has confidence in politicians and this confidence should be restored," Livni told Channel 10 private television.

"The public wants to know that their leaders give priority to the interests of the country and respect the law," she added.

Livni's comments come as Prime Minister Ehud Olmert fights for his political life, and opinion polls show she has emerged as front-runner in the leadership race for her centrist Kadima party.

Olmert is facing six corruption investigations amid mounting calls to resign, not only from local media and the political opposition but from the ranks of his own fragile coalition.

Kadima, currently headed by Olmert, will hold a September primary that could lead to the embattled prime minister's replacement. It is unclear whether Olmert, facing several corruption investigations, will choose to stand.

Even if Olmert were to stand, Livni has been seen as most likely to win.

The widening political crisis has cast a shadow on the US-backed Middle East peace process, formally relaunched in November and aimed at resolving the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict by the end of 2008.


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