Wednesday, July 30, 2008

At Last! Olmert to Resign in September

At last, and not a moment too soon for Israel's wellbeing, an outraged and defensive Ehud Olmert announced today that he will resign as Prime Minister following his Kadima Party's primary election, scheduled for September 17. Whoever is elected party leader at that primary will have an opportunity to form a new government. Should coalition negotiations fail, new elections will follow, and (gulp) Olmert would continue as Prime Minister of a caretaker government until a new Prime Minister is chosen based on the results of the elections.

Marking the occassion, and in some fear and trepidation of the consequences of even an interim government headed by Ehud Olmert, we reprise one of my favorite Dry Bones cartoons of the Olmert era, at left.

By the way, the AP story linked here and in the title of this post, written by one Mark Lavie, shows the cluelessness of the author and, if his views are typical of his colleagues, of the mainstream media at large. His opening line states that Olmert's resignation "is throwing his country into political turmoil and raising doubts about progress for U.S.-backed Mideast peace efforts." Any knowledgable observer of the Israeli scene knows that it was Olmert's continuing tenure in office, following the debacle of the summer 2006 Lebanon War and the continuing corruption scandals that yet threaten to put him in the dock, if not in prison, that were the causes of political turmoil in Israel.

As for progress toward Mideast peace, no person has done more single-handedly to damage prospects for peace than Ehud Olmert. He was the architect of the Gaza disengagement, which created "Hamasistan" in Gaza and exposed all of southern Israel to continuous rocket and artillery attack. The rise of Hamas has weakened the hands of less fanatic Palestinians and made productive negotiations virtually impossible. Olmert's incompetent, disastrous prosecution of the Lebanon war strengthened Hezbollah both politically and militarily, to the point where Hezbollah essentially controls Lebanon and poises a greater military threat to Israel than it did prior to the summer of 2006. His recent negotiations, culminating in the "corpses for prisoners" exchange, which included the release of the odious child-killer Kuntar, have further weakened Israel in Arab eyes. Peace in the Middle East requires that Israel's enemies fear her military might, and be deterred by it. Olmert, by acting as if his nation is a pitiful, helpless giant, made the prospects for peace ever more remote.

What Olmert ought to do, if he cared more for the country than for his personal well-being, would be to resign regardless of whether his Kadima party is able to form a new coalition government. If there is to be a caretaker Prime Minister, let it be someone other than Ehud Olmert. My personal preference, if I have to select a Kadima party leader, would be Shaul Mofaz, who did a credible job as Defense Minister and, in his military career, as Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces. In the longer term, I hope for the return as Prime Minister of an older and hopefully wiser Benyamin Netanyahu, heading a Likud-led coalition. And please God, let Natan Sharansky have a significant role in any such Likud government.


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