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Ehud Olmert may have reached the end of his political rope, as almost two-thirds of Israelis want him out of office. Up to now, the ruling coalition that has kept the Kadima leader in power has not yet crumbled, but that may change soon:
DISCONTENT over Ehud Olmert’s handling of the war with Hezbollah has risen sharply, to the extent that most Israelis now believe that the Prime Minister should resign.
An opinion poll in Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper yesterday showed that 63 per cent of those questioned want Mr Olmert to go. In contrast, support for his rival Binyamin Netanyahu and his Likud Party has risen sharply.
The steep decline in Mr Olmert’s popularity has gathered momentum as the ranks of protesters dismayed by his Government’s management of the conflict have grown since the United Nations’ ceasefire began 12 days ago.
The Israeli public opinion has been further shaped by the reservists coming back from the battle of Lebanon. Their anger has amplified the deep dissatisfaction with the accomplishments of the four-week war, fought almost reluctantly by the Kadima PM. His hesitancy in fully committing to war and the lack of a coherent war plan has cut Kadima support.
Unsurprisingly, the Israelis are turning to a former PM who had his own problems in office but understands how to fight a war. Netanyahu has refused to join Olmert in a national-unity government, stating that the differences between the two are too great to overcome. He will bide his time until the inevitable collapse of Olmert's coalition, and then he will ride to office on a wave of pro-military sentiment so strong that even the Israeli Left has joined it.
In fact, this shows the danger to tentative politicians who lead a fully mobilized electorate. Even those Israelis who normally see their nation as an irritant in regional politics and who counsel a policy of modesty and isolation supported this war. Many of them wrote impassioned treatises on the folly of their former pacifism when confronted with intractable terrorism and enemies who will not be satisfied with anything less than a genocide. Now these former pacifists have the opportunity to display their martial sentiments by castigating the Olmert government for its perceived military ineptitude with all the passion of the newly converted.
Politically and strategically, I still think the Israelis came out ahead in this war. They forced Hezbollah to shoot off a third of its inventory and to lose a bigger proportion of their launchers, and they demonstrated that the rockets actually provide no deterrent to the Israelis. Instead, it showed them as a liability, a reason that Israel would consider a full-scale invasion of Lebanon. It also forced Lebanon to finally send its army into the sub-Litani region and gave Israel a reason to blockade Lebanon to keep arms from flowing into Hezbollah unmolested. Israel also established a much lower threshold for massive response, one that the proxies in the region and their hosts will remember for a long time.
However, there is no question that Olmert's strategic plan left a lot to be desired -- and that all of the above wins could easily come from a Netanyahu-led government more likely to apply them consistently. Olmert will probably be gone before Yom Kippur.Sphere It View blog reactions
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» 63% of Israelis say Olmert must go from Old War Dogs
Popular clamour for Cabinet heads to roll DISCONTENT over Ehud Olmert’s handling of the war with Hezbollah has risen sharply, to the extent that most Israelis now believe that the Prime Minister should resign. An opinion poll in Yedioth Ahronoth [Read More]
Tracked on August 26, 2006 5:51 PM
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