January 5, 2006


Analysis: now Israel must find another strong leader - fast (Richard Beeston, 1/05/06, Times of London)

Ehud Olmert, the Deputy Prime Minister who defected with Mr Sharon from the Likud Party last year, has been appointed caretaker prime minister, a post he can occupy for 100 days. He is a political lightweight compared to Mr Sharon.

To win the party's support and make a convincing showing in the elections he will have to transform himself in the eyes of the Israeli public.

First he has to win the party's leadership race. He will be up against Tzipi Livni, the Justice Minister, General Shaul Mofaz, the Defence Minister, and possibly Shimon Peres, the former Labour Party leader, who joined Kadima late last year.

Then he will have to turn a one-man party, created by Mr Sharon, into a political movement that can take on the established parties like Likud and Labour. He has to achieve this all in two months, an impossible task.

Mr Sharon's removal is a gift for Benjamin Netanyahu, the Likud leader, whose party faced a humiliating defeat in the March 28 polls. As the most experienced of the Israeli leaders left in the field he can expect to see his fortunes improve, particularly if the Israeli public grows concerned about the violence and chaos among the Palestinians.

Israel needs a popular general who's killed Arabs -- preferably Palestinians -- in the past in order to have the credibility to give them a state now. There doesn't seem to be one available. If Mr. Olmert is seen as too weak to do the killing if necessary and Bibi continues to oppose statehood then the Israeli people have no good choices--the new Labor leader, Amir Peretz, being pretty much a post-Zionist.

All that said, the photo of Mr. Olmert that the Times chose to accompany this story is outrageous, making him appear a chimpanzee.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 5, 2006 8:23 AM

The British press has long been antisemitic. They've hated Israel since well before it even existed as an independent state.

Posted by: ericl at January 5, 2006 9:40 AM

I hope Sharon makes a full recovery and retires from public life. I must respectfully demur, what the Middle East needs now isn't another old general, but some new leadership. People who don't have a long history of rights and wrongs.

Hopefully people who have learned from history.

Einstein said that insanity is repeating the same thing over and over and expecting different results. If that's true, Israeli leaders are insane. They have been appeasing the "Palestinians" by making concessions and returning land won in wars of aggression against them. They have kept their part of numerous bargains while the people whose main raison d'Ítre for decades has been to push them into the sea, have broken every agreement including the most recent Gaza giveaway.

Yes, definitely time for new leadership.

Posted by: erp at January 5, 2006 2:53 PM

Shaul Mofaz,the Defense Minister and former Army
Chief of Starr who was born in Iran, fits the bill.

Posted by: narciso at January 5, 2006 8:42 PM