Thursday, May 31, 2007

How to Get Olmert to Leave Office? Dry Bones Finds the Way!

The previous post discussed how difficult it has been for Israel to oust its current Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert. Sort of like the old country hit, "How Can I Miss You When You Won't Go Away." The problem is that Israel has a parliamentary government, and it is therefore stuck with the Kadima-led, thoroughly discredited government of Ehud Olmert until the next scheduled Knesset elections, or until the present Knesset passes a vote of no confidence, forcing early elections, whichever comes first. Because the parties that make up the ruling coalition know that early elections will mean their downfall from power, to quote Bob Dylan, "They ain't goin' nowhere."

Dry Bones proposes the perfect solution. The President of Israel is the ceremonial head of state, elected by the Knesset. It is a purely symbolic post, usually awarded as a valedictory position to some elder statesman. Kirschen brilliantly suggests offering Olmert a face-saving exit to a position where he probably can do no more harm.

The more closely one follows the Israeli political scene, the funnier this idea is. Just this week, Shimon Peres let it be known that he wants to finish his career as Israel's President. Peres has never led his political party to victory in a national election. Every time he headed the Labor Party slate, Labor lost. He has been an unelected Prime Minister three times; first, after Yitchak Rabin was forced to resign in a scandal; a second time, pursuant to an office rotation agreement in a coalition agreement between Labor and Likud; and the final time after Rabin's assassination. Each time he stood for re-election as Prime Minister, he lost. In 2000, after being ousted as the head of the Labor Party, he campaigned for the Presidency, against an underdog candidate from Likud, Moshe Katsav, and lost. Last week, Prime Minister Olmert endorsed Peres' latest quest for the Presidency of Israel, saying that he, Olmert, would do everything in his power to make Peres President.

Won't it be the sad-sack culmination of Peres' disastrous record in elections if Olmert changes his mind, runs for the post of President, and defeats Peres?


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