Sharon’s heir apparent as leader of the Kadima party, Ehud Olmert, has always struck me as a smiling hatchet man. Now, Uri Avnery, a man much more experienced in Israeli politics than I, has written a sharp incisive portrait which damns with faint praise:
One has to face the fact that Sharon is leaving the political arena empty of outstanding personalities and charismatic leaders. For better or worse, Israel will now be a normal Western-style country, with normal political parties headed by normal politicians.
And no politician is more normal than Ehud Olmert; the quintessential politician, who has never been anything but a politician, a politician pure and simple.
He is not a Great Father. Neither a glorious general nor a great thinker. He has no charisma, no vision, no exceptional integrity. At the start of his career, he soon betrayed several of who had favored him. But he is shrewd, smart, sober, ambitious and glib on TV, a politician, without grandstanding and poses.
He landed in his present position by sheer accident. The title “Deputy Prime Minister” was given him as a consolation prize, because Sharon could not satisfy his craving for the powerful Finance Ministry, which had already been promised to Netanyahu. As compensation, Sharon conferred on Olmert a title that was quite meaningless, because it meant only that Olmert would chair cabinet meetings on the rare occasions when Sharon was abroad.
Now, suddenly, the empty title turns out to be an excellent springboard. Automatic procedures have turned Olmert into Sharon’s temporary successor, and in politics, as is well known, nothing is more permanent than the temporary. The first to occupy a position has a huge advantage over all challengers.
One can trust Olmert not to do foolish things. His ego will not lead him into a hole, as frequently happens to Netanyahu. He is also much more experienced and devious than Amir Peretz.
(Gush Shalom, no direct link to article unfortunately)