JERUSALEM (Reuters) - A panel investigating the conduct of Israel’s war in Lebanon last year scathingly criticized Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Monday but he said he would not resign and would work instead to put right mistakes.
Here are some facts about Olmert:
— His approval ratings plummeted to single digits after last year’s war against Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas. His popularity has been in the doldrums ever since, not helped by allegations of corruption involving both politics and real estate deals. He has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
— He joined former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in leaving the right-wing Likud party in 2005 to form the centrist Kadima. Olmert became party leader after Sharon suffered a stroke in January last year. Kadima won parliamentary elections two months later.
— He supported Israel’s 2005 Gaza withdrawal and Sharon’s vision of quitting more West Bank land to unilaterally set borders with the Palestinians in the absence of peace talks. The plan was shelved after the Lebanon war and amid fears Palestinian militants could use the areas to launch rockets.
— Backed by the United States, he has met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas several times in a bid to bolster the moderate leader, who is in a power-sharing deal with Hamas Islamists.
— He spent his mandatory military service as a battlefield reporter due to health problems, seeing combat only from afar. He joined parliament in 1973, aged just 28. He also had a legal career.
— He was elected mayor of Jerusalem in 1993 and championed building Jewish enclaves in the Arab eastern part of the city.