Thursday, January 24, 2008

Kadima Holds Fast to Failure


Q: How does Olmert command such loyalty from his MKs?

A: Power.

Q: What happens when Olmert no longer has power?

A: Don't let the door hit ya where the Good Lord split ya!

So, right now everything is kissy kissy lovey lovey. We’ll see what happens when Winograd FINALLY comes out—and Dafka “Olmert kept report back” articles start getting published.


Boim to Labor: Don't Count on us to Depose Olmert
by Hillel Fendel

( With the release of the Winograd Report - and its accompanying possible political earthquake - only six days away, some Kadima MKs say they don't plan on replacing Olmert. Others are not so sure.

The report in question is being prepared by the Winograd Commission, which was appointed shortly after the Second Lebanon War to investigate the government's handling of the war. It is likely to contain stinging criticism of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's performance, and is expected to lead to public pressure from at least one political sector for his resignation. Olmert has often said, including as recently as this week at the Herzliya Conference, that he does not regret his decisions during the war, and does not plan to resign.

The Commision was appointed in September 2006 amidst public pressure and a general feeling that Israel had done poorly in the war. Calls had been made for a full-fledged State Commission of Inquiry, but Olmert finally agreed only to convene a lower-level investigation, naming former Tel Aviv Regional Court President Eliyahu Winograd to head a commission that would issue non-binding conclusions. These conclusions are to be submitted to Olmert next Wednesday, January 30.

Boim: Olmert Deserves to Stay
Despite Olmert's confidence, uncertainty regarding Israel's political future immediately following the issuance of the Winograd Report continues to reign. Olmert-ally Ze'ev Boim, the Minister of Housing, said this week at a Kadima Party gathering that there are no plans to depose Olmert, no matter what Winograd might say.

Boim lavished praise upon the Prime Minister, and said that he recently told Labor Party leader and Minister of Defense Ehud Barak that Kadima would not replace Olmert with another Kadima member.

Mofaz and Sheetrit on the Sidelines
Kadima members Sha'ul Mofaz and Meir Sheetrit - Ministers of Transportation and Interior, respectively - have hinted broadly that they would be willing to run for leadership of the Kadima. Neither has been particularly supportive of Olmert. "I told Barak that he shouldn't count on us [to depose Olmert]," Boim said.

Responding to calls for Olmert to take responsibility for the Second Lebanon War and resign, Boim said, "Olmert has already corrected the faults of the war... And if we're talking about taking responsibility, there are not a few positive things for which he can take responsibility as well." Boim included the timely passing of the national budget, the decline in unemployment, and the drop in traffic accidents among the achievements of the Olmert government.

Bereaved Parents Disagree
Meanwhile, following the much-publicized call by bereaved parents of fallen soldiers for Olmert to resign, at least one such parent takes the opposite approach. Yossi Ben-Giat, whose son Yaar was killed during the Second Lebanon War, told Ynet, "If the ground forces had been brought in any earlier, the results could have been worse. The war might have ended earlier, but at the price of hundreds of dead. It's not a question of fault; there was a war, we won in points and not by a knockout. Olmert need not resign, but should rather receive a medal for saving lives."

Ben-Giat admitted that Olmert caved in to media pressure during the war, saying, "The ground forces entered [at all] only because of media pressure."

The Winograd Report is expected to address the accusations against Olmert, then-Defense Minister Peretz, and then-IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz for being unprepared for the war, making widespread misjudgments, and even making military decisions based on internal political considerations during the war with Hizbullah. In addition, many said the trio did not achieve the goals it promised before agreeing to a ceasefire - most notably, the release of the two soldiers who were taken captive by Hizbullah on the eve of the war. From the left, claims began to be heard that Olmert should never have gone to war at all - and the Winograd Commission investigated these claims as well.

Halutz has since resigned, and Peretz was all but deposed by his party - leaving only Olmert to face the music. The Winograd Commisssion announced several weeks ago, however, that it would not issue recommendations regarding the political future of Olmert or other military or political figures. Nonetheless, the Commission's conclusions are expected to be critical in determining Israel's political future for the coming months. Possible scenarios include public pressure for Olmert to resign, Labor's quitting the coalition, the calling of new elections - or the continuation of the status quo, despite all.

The Commission heard some 75 witnesses, publicizing some 30 of their testimonies. Among those whose testimonies were publicized were Olmert, Peretz, Halutz, Shimon Peres, Barak, and Opposition Leader Binyamin Netanyahu. The Commission announced that it would not publicize some 45 others - including those of IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, former Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon, Mossad chief Meir Dagan, and Shabak head Yuval Diskin - in order not to harm state security.

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