The gentleman at left, looking uncomfortably confused, is Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Israel National News reports today:
"In an interview with Chinese news agency Xinhua, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that unilateral withdrawal has proven to be a failed policy."
Mr. Olmert is the head of the Kadima Party, which was formed by former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to promote his policy of unilateral withdrawal from Gaza. After Sharon was felled by a massive stroke, Mr. Olmert, then acting Prime Minister, led the Kadima slate and won election in his own right, campaigning on the "success" of the Gaza withdrawal and the promise of more unilateral territorial concessions in Yehuda and Shomron.
Now Olmert admits, if only in foreign press interviews, that the policy which was the sole basis for Sharon's split from the Likud Party, and the policy Kadima promoted on its way to becoming the largest party in the current Knesset, is a failure.
Olmert explained his new position to the Chinese interviewer by reference to the Israeli withdrawals from Lebanon in 2000 and from Gaza in 2005, both of which, he said, encouraged terrorism and increased the likelihood of war.
"A year ago, I believed that we would be able to do this unilaterally," he told reporters ahead of a three-day trip to China, which began Tuesday morning. "However, it should be said that our experience in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip is not encouraging. We pulled out of Lebanon unilaterally, and see what happened. We pulled out of the Gaza Strip completely, to the international border, and every day they are firing Kassam rockets at Israelis. Under the existing circumstances, it would be more practical to achieve a two-state solution through negotiations rather than [unilateral] withdrawal."
This "failed policy" destroyed model communities in Gaza and reduced to rubble the homes, farms and businesses of over 9000 people. Many of those displaced have received little or none of the compensation promised by the Israeli government. Many hundreds if not thousands are still homeless and jobless. Now, after the continuing rain of Kassam rockets on Israel's southern communities, after a misplanned and failed war in Southern Lebanon, Prime Minister Olmert concedes that the foundational policy of his political party is a failure.
It seems to me that only one question remains: Why is the Olmert-Kadima led government still in power? Why has the Likud failed to assemble enough votes from opposition parties and disaffected Labor Party Knesset members to pass a no-confidence motion and end this political travesty? (Alright, that's two questions.)