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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Labor party gets it half right but Olmert and Peretz will be gone this week

Israel's Labor party reached half of the correct answer today in the fallout from yesterday's Winograd Commission interim report. They concluded - correctly - that foreign minister Tzipi Feigele Livni is not the answer to Israel's problems. There's only one problem: they want to replace Ehud K. Olmert with a man who cannot even be elected to the house committee of his cooperative building, a man who believes that Israel should be a web site or an artificial island in the Mediterranean, the man who brought us the Oslo debacle, the one and only Slimy Shimon Peres. Someone please wake up these idiots and tell them that he's not even in their party anymore!
A Labor member close to former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, who is running for party chairmanship, said, β€œAn experienced person who is trusted and accepted should be running the country during this period.

β€œLivni is a political bluff and is even less experienced and qualified than Olmert, and therefore Peres should be the leading candidate to replace the prime minister,” he said.

Peres told reporters in Beer Sheva that the government was "capable of functioning" in its current state.
The bolded part is the part they got right.

Meanwhile, Feigele is ostensibly keeping quiet, although the Jerusalem Post is reporting that she has told 'close associates' that Olmert ought to resign. This is from Haaretz:
Livni no doubt understands that she is about to embark on the test that determines her leadership ability. She did not back Olmert in any way, and in her meticulously-planned comments she pointed out that she does not intend to play the personal or political game.

"There was an attempt to drag me onto the political and personal field, but I don't intend to play on that field," she said. "This is not a personal issue between me and the prime minister but rather the country's future. This is big and important."

Either Tuesday or Wednesday on Livni will no longer be able to avoid direct contact with the media. She asked for time to study the report, but it is clear to her that as the designated heir to Olmert among the public and in Kadima she must soon answer the question of whether Olmert should resign.

Livni is aware that her popularity is based on her image as responsible, matter-of-fact and corruption-free. She understands that she will have to prove that silence and a clear evasion of statements is not her ideology.

On Monday, she was already forced into a semi-clash with the prime minister, when she read in national newspaper Maariv that Olmert would be happy to be rid of her. Her aides clarified that she is not planning to oust the prime minister. That was before the report was published and was unexpectedly severe.

According to a senior Kadima official, "If Livni wants us behind her, she has to come out and lead the opposition to Olmert. There isn't a lot of time. Kadima officials who have spoken with Livni believe she would rather see Olmert fall without getting her feet wet."

Livni, who has been designated as Olmert's heir by Coalition Chairman Avigdor Yitzhaki and Public Security Minister Avi Dichter, could find herself in an internal battle versus another potential heir: Vice Premier Shimon Peres, who could emerge as a compromise candidate should Olmert resign in the coming months. Peres, however, backed Olmert during the Kadima ministers meeting.

"New elections would send a message to the Arab world that we are falling apart and will bring us to an unprecedented low," he said. "We have collective responsibility. This is not an issue of only the prime minister. Kadima won a majority in order to govern and correct failures."

Both Peres and Livni were hardly criticized in the Winograd report. The committee made thorough use of their testimonies and statements during government meetings to strengthen their conclusions regarding the failures of the prime minister and defense minister.

Peres is described in the report as the most experienced minister, and the one who presented from the war's outset the "wider context of the operation." The committee stressed that Peres called the proposed response "short-sighted, standard, and very predictable," and said Israel must "respond in a creative manner, without overestimating our strength."

The committee also wrote that during government meetings, then chief of staff Dan Halutz "degraded Peres, with all his experience, who asked the questions."

Livni, meanwhile is praised for seeking a diplomatic exit strategy from the first days of the war. The panel added that in the first government meeting the foreign minister "explicitly added the diplomatic goal - complete implementation of Security Council Resolution 1559."
But as I noted above, the Jerusalem Post, after reporting a comment that Olmert made to Channel 2 indicating that he 'may not get through this,' says that Livni has started to cut the ground out from under Olmert:
Comments from Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni also showed her doubting Olmert's ability to remain in office, Channel 10 reported.

According to the report, Livni told her associates that she thought Olmert should resign from his position. In addition, the report stated that Livni planned political action, but what kind of action remained uncertain.

Earlier, coalition Chairman Avigdor Yitzhaki spoke with several members of the Kadima party on Tuesday, regarding the future of the party's leardership - namely the replacement of Olmert in light of the Winograd report on the Second Lebanon War.

Channel 2 reported that almost half of the Kadima faction supports ousting Olmert.

In this respect, Kadima MKs are expected to call on Olmert to quit on Thursday during a special Knesset meeting on the Winograd report, Channel 2 reported.
If I'm Netanyahu, I push for elections as quickly as possible. If the Knesset is disbanded next week, the final Winograd report would be released in the middle of the Knesset election campaign (the election takes place on the first Tuesday falling more than ninety days after the Knesset disbands; the Winograd Commission's final report is scheduled for release in late July).

My prediction: Olmert and Peretz will be gone by the end of this week. Then the battle over the new Knesset will begin.


At 10:28 PM, Blogger Lois Koenig said...

Do you believe that there is even the slightest chance for Peres to become PM? How did he slither out of the Winograd Report nearly unscathed?

This Israel needed like a lokh in kop...

At 10:35 PM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...


I believe that Peres could become Prime Minister but only as a caretaker until an election.

At 10:59 PM, Blogger Lois Koenig said...


'I believe that Peres could become Prime Minister but only as a caretaker until an election.'

Gevalt...and he might try to push the election further and further away. Does Israel have the stomach for this?


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