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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Olmert the hawk?

Eventually resigning Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert has suddenly become the hawk in his government, calling for Operation Cast Lead to continue until it reaches its goals. Olmert's position has renewed long-standing arguments with defense minister Ehud Barak.
The illusion of wartime unity at the top of the political pyramid vanished Wednesday, when sources close to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert slammed Defense Minister Ehud Barak for seeking to promote a weeklong "humanitarian cease-fire" in the Gaza Strip.

Following press reports Wednesday that Barak wanted to see a humanitarian cease-fire, sources close to Olmert were quoted as saying that Hamas saw and heard what was going on in Israel and "draws encouragement" from this, concluding that Israel was searching for a way out of the military operation.

"The irresponsibility of ministers - regardless of how senior they are - in leading private initiatives is unfortunate," one of these officials said.

The official said that the publication of these plans "gives encouragement to Hamas, gives a shot in the arm to their backers, and has an immediate effect of the fate of a million Israelis in the South and thousands of IDF soldiers carrying out operations inside Gaza."

The officials said all ideas that had a direct impact on military activities should be discussed privately, and not through the media, and that it was necessary to maintain maximum ambiguity about Israel's plans to achieve the operations' aims.

Barak did not hold his fire, and issued a statement of his own, saying that he would "not be dragged into unfitting or baseless" wartime declarations when a great deal of responsibility was needed.

Barak said the public would know "very well how to judge the degree of responsibility and seriousness of the country's leaders."
Olmert isn't just fighting with Barak - he has resumed his long-time feud with foreign minister Tzipi Livni.

A few hours later, Channel 10 reported that Olmert was not only feuding with Barak, but also with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. According to the report - denied immediately by the Prime Minister's Office - Olmert turned down a request by Livni to go to Washington to get US guarantees to stop the arms smuggling into Gaza. If that sounds familiar, it should.
Olmert also encountered problems inside his own party over the weekend when Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni expressed disappointment with his decision to prevent her from attending the Security Council deliberations on the cease-fire resolution in New York.

The move was seen as revenge against Livni for opposing military operations and for voting against a decision to bomb Hizbullah's headquarters in Beirut at the start of the war. [I never knew she voted against it, and why is Olmert taking 'revenge' when it was clear all along that he himself opposed it? CiJ]

In an unflattering profile in the weekend magazine of Yediot Aharonot, Foreign Ministry staffers criticized Livni for taking a backseat role during the war and refusing to give interviews to the foreign press.

"My relationship with the prime minister is correct," Livni told Channel 1 on Saturday night. "I think I should have gone to New York but the prime minister thought differently, so I did my work from here." [Someone find the lady some frequent flier miles. CiJ]
And in case you have any doubts as to who is on what side....
While both Barak and Livni have indicated they would like to end the operation now, Olmert's position has been less clear, leading to reports of disagreement between him and his two top ministers about how to wind down the Gaza offensive.
What's going on is that elections are scheduled to take place in three and a half weeks. Barak would like to consolidate his gains and do better at the polls. He also needs to worry about losing the left flank of his party if the 'humanitarian crisis' in Gaza gets worse. Livni never wanted to go to war in the first place. She doesn't believe that a 'diplomatic solution' can ever be reached with Hamas, and because her bailiwick is supposed to be diplomacy, she has nothing further to gain from the war continuing. And Olmert is fighting for his legacy and hoping that this war will make the country forget the fiasco in Lebanon two and a half years ago. If the war ends now, the Second Lebanon War will still be a major part of his legacy.

The headline of this article in the JPost is "Politics start spilling out of war room." While Israel was forced into this war at this time by Hamas, politics were never far away from it. Each of the three major actors has a personal political agenda in this war. And unfortunately, none of them has on his or her agenda to finish what they started.


At 9:41 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Except for Ehud Olmert who wants to be remembered as having finished off Hamas. Since he is the Prime Minister, he has the last word. Had he acted as decisively in his ill-starred two years in office, he might not be facing the end of his career today. And the last thing he wants to be remembered is for bungling the Lebanon War and being a crook. So while the other Ehud and Tzipi Livni have other ideas, a majority of the Cabinet will still vote to continue with Operation Cast Lead, at least for now.

At 10:25 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Even if it is for political reasons, I for one am glad Olmert wants to fight on. Tsipileh and Ehud Barach continue to be what they are - cowards.

I have a couple of links for your delectation.
The first is an article about an Italian journalist in Gaza, confirming our suspicions that local reporters are exaggerating the extent of the damage and suffering in Gaza. I can't find this in English, so here is the Hebrew article: http://news.nana10.co.il/Article/?ArticleID=609734&sid=126

The second items is a picture worth many thousands of words. Haifa U. - a very tall building atop a hill. What a sight, and you don't need to understand the Hebrew to "get the picture": http://krayot-news.koral.co.il/Front/Newsnet/reports.asp?reportId=261110

At 3:20 PM, Blogger Robertcw72 said...

Do you think it could all be an act? That really they are all united but they know this kind of crap would leak out so....they are helping it along?


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