It's amazing how quickly we have come full circleRemember August? Remember how we all thought that Ehud Olmert's
In an interview with Newsweek that was published late last night as Olmert flew to the US for what Caroline Glick calls his 'ill-timed' meeting with US President Bush, Olmert says that we have 'many options,' including national suicide.
WEYMOUTH: Last year you told President Bush you had a vision—your convergence plan—which was to withdraw unilaterally from large parts of the West Bank. Do you have a new vision today?Please keep in mind that like Bill Clinton, Olmert is a slick lawyer and you have to read every word carefully. So let's read between the lines a bit and see what he's really saying:
OLMERT: The “convergence” plan was a vehicle to accomplish a vision shared by President Bush and myself—this is a two-state solution.
After the war in Lebanon, you said the "convergence" plan was on hold.
After the war, and the failure of the Palestinians to cope with continued terrorist actions, I had second thoughts about my ability to accomplish the two-state solution through realignment. One thing I can promise: under no circumstances am I going to withdraw from the need to engage in a serious dialogue with the Palestinians. The Palestinian issue is on the agenda. There is no way we can ignore it. We have to find the best partner-a lot depends on the Palestinian leadership.
How do you feel about President Abu Mazen as a partner?
He has consistently shown his opposition to terror and his discomfort with Hamas. But it is incumbent upon him to do more than just say how uncomfortable he is with Hamas. He hasn’t yet shown enough determination to put down this government of terrorists and to reduce the influence of Khalad Mashal, who controls the the Palestinian government from Damascus.
How would you feel if Abu Mazen entered into a unity government with Hamas?
If Hamas will formally accept Israel’s right to exist, end all terror against Israel, and recognize the [prior] agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, then I’ll be ready to sit with such a government, even if it includes Hamas representatives.
Has the United States asked you to release Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti from prison, and would you consider it?
I made it clear long ago that I am anxious to open up a new dialogue with Abu Mazen and for that purpose I’m ready to release many prisoners. Hamas’ inflexible attitude prevents the prisoners from being released because they refuse to let us have our soldier [captured Cpl. Gilad Shalit]. Hamas is not really interested in the wellbeing of its prisoners. They want to topple Abu Mazen at any cost.
You brought the ultra right-wing Avigdor Lieberman into your coalition. Will that affect your negotiating position with the Palestinians?
I made it clear that the policies of this government are not going to be changed, and you can read my lips. I’m ready for territorial compromises, and I haven’t changed my mind.
1. Olmert says that after the 'Palestinians' 'failure' to control terrorism last summer (how you can fail if you don't try is beyond me but that's a separate issue), he "had second thoughts about my ability to accomplish the two-state solution through realignment." It's not that Olmert stopped 'believing' in the 'plan,' because of Palestinian terrorism. It's that he realized that the Israeli public would never allow him to pull the 'plan' off after seeing what giving the 'Palestinians' Gaza has done to Israeli security in the south. He doubted he would be able to push the 'plan' through.
But now, those doubts have receded. First, Israelis have short memories, and already we are hearing calls to deal with the 'Palestinians.' Any 'Palestinians.' It's gotten colder outside and there are no more demonstrations calling for a real commission of inquiry into this summer's war. Some heads will roll (Gal Hirsch's rolled this morning), but Olmert himself is safe. So is Peretz and maybe even Halutz.
Second, Olmert has strengthened his 'coalition' with the addition of Avigdor Lieberman. The budget - which should have brought Olmert down - will now sail through. Olmert has probably bought himself at least a year until the next elections. And for those of you who think that Lieberman will oppose Olmert's 'plan,' don't count on it. Lieberman is opposed to Jews living with Arabs. He has no problems giving the 'Palestinians' territory.
2. Olmert continues to play the game that 'moderate Palestinian President'
3. Again, don't count on Lieberman. Lieberman wants to exchange parts of the Galilee that are largely inhabited by Arabs for parts of Judea and Samaria that are largely inhabited by Jews. He wouldn't know anything about Israel's security if it hit him in his fat paunch. He never served in the army, and has no idea what the difference is between one piece of land and another. And he has a price. A pretty low one at that. Lieberman exists to bring power to Lieberman. Nothing more and nothing less.
In sum, as Ehud K. Olmert heads to Washington and Los Angeles this week, he has no public support but a government that is - for the time being - entrenched in power. The summer's demonstrations have ended, it's gotten colder outside, and Olmert apparently has several months (at least) to do whatever he wants with a lame duck US President and a leftist dominated Congress from the other party. Ehud's got his fiddle out, and
And Israel is burning....