Thursday, July 31, 2008

Olmert resigns

Finally, Ehud Olmert has announced that he is stepping down as PM after the Kadima Party primary on Sept 17. He will remain a caretaker after that until the next Govt. is formed. He claims of course that he is innocent of all charges against him, but he finally admits that he cannot go on serving as PM while under investigation. He must leave office before he is indicted.
The four candidates for Kadima leadership to replace him are FM Tzipi Livni, former Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, Security Minister Avi Dichter, and Meir Shetreet. Since it is a relatively new party there are no strong factions within Kadima as there are in Likud and Labor. But, the majority apparently (40-50%) support Livni, mainly because she has held herself above the fray of political intrigue, having criticized Olmert but not acted to oust him.
Assuming she wins the Kadima Party primary she will be our next PM, but without a national election. If there were an election, if she could not form a Government coalition, then she is the only candidate to possibly challenge Netanyahu. He is leading also by 40-50% in the polls against Livni and Barak of Labor (who only polls 18%).
Olmert's legacy is that he implemented Sharon's policy of disengagement from Gaza, but it was a failure in bringing about any kind of peaceful outcome, in fact it exacerbated the military-security situation by allowing Hamas the ability to take over Gaza. So Olmert dropped any further plans to unilaterally "disengage" from so-called Palestinian areas. He advanced negotiations with the PA, with Pres Abbas and PM Fayyad, but these too have so far gone nowhere, partly because both sides have become so weak. Even Pres. Bush is a lame duck and cannot ensure his wish of achieving some sort of "shelf" agreement by the end of his term at the end of the year. So two of the negotiators gathering in Washington now will be gone by then, and Abbas has announced that if no agreement is achieved he will also resign. If he does what will happen in the West Bank is uncertain, since Hamas is vying for power there, but both the PA and Israel have cracked down on Hamas there.
Olmert also initiated indirect talks with the Syrian Pres Bashar Assad, but these have an uncertain future given that the US is not comfortable with engaging Syria under present circumstances, and yet Assad said he won't continue to talk unless the US is involved.
Olmert gained national office as a result of his sycophancy with Sharon, he never earned it in national elections. Nevertheless, he showed political mastery by holding his coalition together for so long. He presided over the Second War in Lebanon, and although major mistakes were made, he survived the Winograd Committee Report that severely criticized the Government, but avoided laying blame where it belonged. All that Olmert has done has not been bad, but very little that he has done has been successful. He leaves office almost disgraced, but unrepentent. Let's hope we will never see him in office again.


Post a Comment

<< Home