Monday, January 28, 2008

Olmert must go

An opinion by Naomi Chazan , THE JERUSALEM POST Jan. 24, 2008:

The publication of the final report of the Winograd Commission this coming week will bring the simmering political scene to a boil....detractors within [Ehud Olmert's] party are gearing up to demand his resignation. ...only Labor along with, surprisingly, segments of Meretz, remain ambivalent. They... should understand that Olmert should go and will go. If they don't act accordingly, they will be compromising their own principles on the altar of political shortsightedness....

...there is no objective reason to bolster Olmert at this juncture. The prime minister's integrity has been queried repeatedly for years; several investigations are still pending. His economic and social policies are anathema to the social-democratic teachings of the Left; his behavior in the teachers' and lecturers' strikes was inexcusably passive. And he has failed the ultimate leadership test in the Second Lebanon War. Regardless of the precise contents on the Winograd Commission report, Olmert will be remembered as the prime minister who led the country into a war it did not win despite the heavy human price it exacted....

...WHAT, THEN, explains the willingness of some advocates of a permanent agreement to sustain the Olmert premiership?.... For the Labor Party under Barak, the reasoning goes, it is better to stay in government as long as possible than to face the voters at the polls. ....Those who represent Israel's substantial peace constituency must display the courage of their convictions.

Wrapping Ehud Olmert in cotton wool is therefore thoroughly counterproductive....Proponents of negotiations must ...abide by their principles. Meretz cannot even contemplate joining this government. Ehud Barak must keep his word and withdraw from the coalition immediately. Surely they realize that elections are in the offing - either in the spring or, after a period of increasing political turmoil, in the fall -..... They owe it to their voters and to society as a whole to .....subject this vision to the voters' test. This is the essence of democracy and nobody - least of all the Left - can avoid its full meaning.

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