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Sunday, April 29, 2007

Will Ehud K. Olmert be forced to resign?

The question I am asked most often here in the United States is why we Israelis cannot force our corrupt, inept government out. Why is Ehud K. Olmert still Prime Minister and Amir Comrade Peretz 'defense minister' after all this time? I have explained before why it is so difficult to unseat the Prime Minister these days. But our best chance of doing so comes this week.

On Monday, the Winograd Commission report will be released, and tonight Channel 10 had a preview:
A report broadcast by Israel's Channel 10 news claimed on Saturday evening that the committee found Prime Minister Ehud Olmert failed to put into action emergency plans drawn up long before the war. Fearing it would result in heavy casualties Olmert resisted a ground incursion into Lebanon but presented no cohesive alternative in its stead due to a lack of structured planning. According to the committee the war was grossly mismanaged and decisions were hastily made in the ensuing chaos. [I could have told you that much. CiJ]

According to the report the committee faulted the entire wartime decision-making process and said it was not up to the standard of leadership necessary during an emergency situation.

Olmert’s office said in response that the prime minister had not yet received the report and therefore was not aware of its content. “We have no intention of responding to media speculation," said his spokesman, "we will wait for the report’s release, study it and then we will respond.”

Officials at Defense Minister Amir Peretz’s office were noticeably relieved that the report seemed to offer tolerable criticism of Peretz, who in the immediate aftermath of the war bore the brunt of most of the public's rage. The committee accused Peretz of failing to make up for his lack of military experience and failing to utilize the defense-oriented resources at his disposal. Peretz, according to the committee, preferred to convene a private forum which bypassed the ministry of defense so that in the end he was running the war with Olmert with a complete lack of the necessary knowledge. [That's 'tolerable criticism'? CiJ]

The committee further said that Peretz's decision to run the war in this manner was motivated by irrelevant personal considerations and that perhaps he was negligent in accepting the post of defense minister in the first place.
But all of this does not move the government:
Both Olmert and Peretz are expected to officially comment on the report on Monday afternoon when the committee releases its findings. All other cabinet ministers declined comment on the leaked findings.
Binyamin Netanyahu and Yossi Beilin(!) plan to join forces to bring down the government:
Likud chairman MK Benjamin Netanyahu and Meretz chairman MK Yossi Beilin met secretly on Friday to discuss the report and the political agenda it would create. The two discussed the possibility of elections and agreed that Olmert must not remain in power.

"Olmert's fate will be similar to that of Golda Meir's after the Yom Kippur war," said Beilin.

MK Effie Eitam (National Union-NRP) called for elections and said that "the commission's conclusions on Olmert, Peretz and Halutz's failures verify the public's feeling that the government had failed and that it should resign." The chairman of Eitam's party said that if Olmert did not resign he would bring forward a motion to disperse the Knesset.

The Forum for Bereaved Families welcomed the report: "This is what we've been saying for nine months, even the committee appointed by those being investigated established that the prime minister and the entire government are responsible for the terrible failings of the war."
But let's face reality: Olmert is not Golda Meir and he is not going to resign nor are his ministers, and the Knesset will not force them out unless an awful lot of people take to the streets in outrage over the Winograd Commission report. There is no other way.


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