Tuesday, August 15, 2006

More heat on Olmert

The Jerusalem Post continues to turn up the heat on Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert:

From all sides of the political spectrum calls are being raised for the establishment of an official commission of inquiry to investigate the Olmert government's incompetent management of the war in Lebanon. These calls are misguided.

We do not need a commission to know what happened or what has to happen. The Olmert government has failed on every level. The Olmert government must go.

The Knesset must vote no confidence in this government and new elections must be carried out as soon as the law permits. If the Knesset hesitates in taking this required step, then the people of Israel must take to the streets in mass demonstrations and demand that our representatives send Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Defense Minister Amir Peretz and their comrades out to pasture. ...

Because of the Olmert government's failures, ever greater battles await us. As the dangers mount by the hour, we must replace this misbegotten government with one that can defend us.

Yossi Klein Halevi writes,

However hard Ehud Olmert tries to spin it, the U.N. ceasefire that began yesterday is a disaster for Israel and for the war on terrorism generally. ...

As one outraged TV anchor put it, Israeli towns were exposed to the worst attacks since the nation's founding, a million residents of the Galilee fled or sat in shelters for a month, more than 150 Israeli civilians and soldiers were killed along with nearly a thousand Lebanese--all in order to ensure the return of U.N. peacekeepers to southern Lebanon.

However, a columnist in Israel who thinks Olmert should be run out of town is far from sure it can actually take place.

Anyone who observed [Olmert’s] nine years as mayor of Jerusalem knows that he is quite comfortable swatting away public criticism and a hostile press. He will pay no heed to those in the media who began calling for his resignation over the weekend, and he is more than willing to take on his political rivals.

Meanwhile, his coalition seems stable. All the parties’ leaders were partners to the war decisions and they will find it hard to jump ship. It’s also difficult to see who can mount a real opposition to Olmert. The Left is still powerless, with scant public support. On the Right, Binyamin Netanyahu has yet to regain his credibility, almost totally destroyed in the last election.

Of course Netanyahu has acted as an admirable spokesman for Israel, giving the government his unstinting support throughout the crisis, but his efforts were mainly targeted at the foreign audience and it has yet to be seen whether that will be enough to reduce the deeply-held suspicion held toward him in what was formerly the Likud electoral heartland. He would be wise not to pounce too quickly and open himself to accusations of political opportunism at the expense of our soldiers. Right now, he seems to prefer a wiser, long-range strategy, and if he manages to enlist former chief of General Staff Moshe Ya’alon, he will start on the long road to political recovery.

Meanwhile, it’s hard to see where Olmert goes from here. Save for a dramatic military operation, perhaps a well-deserved attack on the Iranian nuclear project, he has no way to regain his lost credibility.

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