After Ehud Barak called yesterday for Ehud Olmert to resign or take a leave of absence as prime minister, Tzipi Livni, Israel’s foreign minister, called for him to prepare for new elections. The way she formulated her statement is interesting since she would be the likely person to become the next prime minister if Olmert resigned, but new elections were NOT called. It’s interesting that she specifically didn’t call for his resignation, and called instead for new elections. Perhaps she doesn’t want to be seen to be too grasping for political power since calling for new elections doesn’t necessarily entail Olmert resigning. Though everyone knows that this is what she meant.
As usual in Israeli politics, people seem to be performing Kabuki dances which reveal a slight amount of their true intention and mask the rest.
I realize that Olmert is the consummate Israeli political survivor, and have never, till now counted him out no matter how dire the crisis he faced. But this one seems insurmountable. With a fellow Kadima minister now calling for him to go (albeit indirectly) this will give other Kadima MKs a heksher to join in the chorus. Olmert will eventually go. When and how remains to be seen.
I’m deeply apprehensive about who will assume the leadership. If Netanyahu, all is lost. I don’t even want to think about how dire the situation will become on all counts. If Livni, there is hope. As I’ve said here she seems to be a principled moderate. One also has to give her respect for traveling a long way from her family legacy as a doyenne of the nationalist far-right. Olmert in some senses was a pragmatist who never had the courage of his convictions. Livni is a pragmatist who just might have the courage of hers. The jury’s out on that one. Barak is a hopeless case as are Labor’s chances of doing well in the next election. The party seems to be a doddering corpse. It will be lucky to gain 5 seats in the next Knesset. The battle, unfortunately, is for the political center. The left is virtually lost. Though if Labor disintegrates this might bode well for Meretz which might pick up a few seats.
Haim Watzman of South Jerusalem believes that Bibi will be Israel’s next prime minister. He may be right thought I hope to God he’s not. I think that if Olmert will step aside and allow Livni to take over and she can lead the country for six months or so and gain political traction and display leadership skills, she just might win over enough Israelis that she could get elected in her own right. It would not be easy since Bibi and Likud would be breathing down her neck and formidable adversaries. Anyway, this is my dream. It’s a pragmatic dream rather than a visionary dream. But it’s a far better dream than the nightmare of another bout of Bibi.
I watched a Haaretz video which makes a new claim that Uri Messer had access to a Talansky bank account from which he withdrew huge amounts of cash at will. The account contained over $350,000 according to the report. I can’t find any trace of this story in any of the Israeli English-language press. The story must be in Haaretz’s Hebrew language version. Stuff like this will sink Olmert. I’m astounded at not only his venality, but the sophomoric ways in which he concealed his money-grubbing. For an Israeli prime minister to be such a venal Keystone cop is embarrassing to say the least.