Israel on Tuesday holds early general elections, prompted by the resignation in September of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who is being investigated on corruption charges. The following is a timeline of Israel's political crisis:
- Jan 4: Ariel Sharon suffers a massive brain hemorrhage and Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert assumes office as Israel's 12th prime minister.
- Jan 16: Olmert is nominated as head of centrist Kadima party created by Sharon two months earlier.
- March 28: Olmert leads Kadima to election victory on a platform of dismantling dozens of settlements and withdrawing troops from most of the occupied West Bank.
- May 4: Olmert's coalition government is sworn in.
- Jan 16: A criminal inquiry is opened into corruption allegations against Olmert.
- April 30: Olmert refuses to resign despite an Israeli government commission probing the 2006 Lebanon war accusing him of "serious failure."
- June 13: Former Prime Minister Shimon Peres is elected president of Israel, succeeding Moshe Katzav, who was forced to resign over rape allegations.
- Jan 30: Final report into the Lebanon war brands the conflict a "serious missed opportunity" but falls short of calling for Olmert's resignation.
- May 8: Faced with mounting corruption charges, Olmert is urged to resign even from within his own camp.
- June 25: Under pressure from Labour coalition partners, Olmert agrees to a leadership election for Kadima.
- July 30: Olmert announces he will stand down after Kadima elects a new leader.
- Sept 7: Police recommend indicting Olmert on corruption charges.
- Sept 17: Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is elected leader of Kadima.
- Sept 21: Olmert resigns, but remains prime minister in the caretaker government.
- Sept 22: President Peres tasks Livni with forming a new government within 42 days, or by November 3.
- Oct 24: The ultra-Orthodox Shas party says it will not join the government because of Livni's refusal to accept its budgetary demands and to pledge not to discuss Jerusalem with the Palestinians.
- Oct 28: Livni fails set up a coalition government despite weeks of negotiations with rival parties, and snap elections are called for February 10.
- Nov 3: Two of Israel's main far-right parties announce they have decided to pool forces under a new list promoting settlements in the occupied West Bank.
- Dec 4: The public affairs ministry says it is dropping one of the six graft allegations against Olmert.
- Dec 8: The right-wing Likud party, tipped by polls to win the election, votes for a candidate list to run behind chairman and former premier Benjamin Netanyahu. Hawkish party members put in a strong showing.
- Dec 18: Livni is strengthened by an election within her Kadima party that pushed aside supporters of her rivals.
- Dec 27-Jan 18: Israel carries out Operation Cast Lead against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, killing more than 1,330 Palestinians.
- Feb 6, 2009: Israeli police question Olmert for the 13th time.