Thursday, June 14, 2007

Two losers win

Today the results of two elections were announced. First, Shimon Peres won the election in the Knesset for Ninth President of Israel (only MKs get to vote). This was the first actual election Peres has won in his very long and illustrious career, he had lost 8 previous elections! Admittedly he was the best candidate out of Reuven Rivlin (a Likud Party hack) and Colette Avital of Labor (the woman candidate). When she found that she had received only 27% of the vote she gave her support to Peres, so his win was easy. This represents a win also for PM Olmert of Kadima who gave strong support to Peres. At the age of 84, Peres should be retired, but some say that the Presidency in Israel is like being retired, because its mainly ceremonial, as long as Peres doesn't try to interfere in politics. The move of Peres from the position of Deputy PM will enable Olmert to carry out a Cabinet reshuffle, which is very timely in view of the other election victory.
After winning the first round of the Labor Party primary for leader of the Party against 7 other candidates, Ehud Barak won the runoff election with Ami Ayalon, becoming the new Labor leader. As such he has the right to replace Amir Peretz as Defense Minister. This is good, not only because Peretz is a failure and a fool, but also because Barak was a previous Defense Minister, was a highly decorated soldier and a successful Chief of Staff. Barak, however, was also the Israeli PM in 1999-2001 who was prepared on his own (without consulting anyone but under the influence of Pres. Clinton) to give away part of Jerusalem, all of the West Bank (97%) and Gaza, and parts of Israel too, to Yasir Arafat. Luckily Arafat rejected this incredible offer, but some people, including myself, have never forgiven Barak for this stupidity/perfidy. After this he was roundly defeated by Sharon in the next election. So both Peres and Barak are former losers, now reelected to high office mainly because they are replacing people who are either incompetent (Peretz) and/or charged with criminality (Pres. Katsav).
Barak now needs some time to convince the Israeli electorate that he is a reformed and responsible leader. He promised Labor supporters in his campaign that he would withdraw Labor support for Olmert's coalition, causing the Olmert Govt. to collapse. But, everyone expects Barak to hang in there with Olmert for as long as he can. However, he has barely 4 months until the final Report of the Winograd Committee on the Second Lebanon War is to be presented, and this is expected to be so critical of Olmert that his Government might well collapse then. So Barak might not have enough time to reestablish his credibility before a new national election, in which Olmert is given no chance and Barak is expected to lose to Netanyahu, leader of Likud.


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