Poll: Only 7 percent want Olmert as PM
Despite polls which show Israelis don't see him as right person to lead Israel, PM tells Yedioth Ahronoth he is most suitable; 'I cannot see one person more experienced in managing operation as big as second Lebanon war,' he says
In a special Yedioth Ahronoth interview ahead of the Jewish New Year, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert stated, "I am the most suitable for leadership."
Looking at the political and military establishment, Olmert said he could not see one person more experienced than him in managing an operation as big as second Lebanon war.
In the interview, the prime minister defended the decisions he made during the war and refuted the claims that he was not experienced enough to make them.
"I did not feel I had to deal with the type of decisions for which I lack something in order to deal with them," he said.
"I look at the entire Israeli public system and at the entire military establishment. Has anyone there managed a war with three divisions? Who? ((Former IDF Chief of Staff and former Defense Minister) Shaul Mofaz? (Former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe) Boogie Yaalon? (IDF Chief of Staff) Dan Halutz? (Deputy IDF Chief of Staff) Moshe Kaplinsky? (Outgoing Northern Command Chief) Udi Adam?
"Which one of them managed such a large-scale war that I could say – this is the person I want to rely on? The last person with experience one could rely on was Ariel Sharon," the prime minister stated, more than one month after a ceasefire in Lebanon was declared.
Olmert was also asked about Minister Shaul Mofaz's claims that in a meeting with the prime minister ahead of the operation in Lebanon, he asked Olmert how he would look soldiers' mothers in the eyes and Olmert answered: "Good question."
The prime minister denied the claims and said that he had never heard such things from Mofaz. The harsh remarks made by former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon regarding the death of soldiers for a corrupt spin and a "photo opportunity" were defined by Olmert as "bitterness and vindictiveness."
As for the prisoner swap deal to release kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, Olmert did not rule out the possibility that Israel would also release prisoners "with blood on their hands," as long as this is done opposite Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
The prime minister praised the Saudi king, who is responsible for the Arab peace initiative which is on the agenda once again.
Only Peretz gets less support
However, if one would like to believe the public opinion polls published in the newspapers ahead of Rosh Hashana, Olmert has good reasons to be concerned: The public, it appears, does not see him as the most suitable person anymore.
A poll conducted by Yedioth Ahronoth and the Dahaf Institute headed by Dr. Mina Tzemach, 27 percent of the public believe that Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu is the most suitable person to head the government. He is followed by Israel Our Home Chairman Avigdor Lieberman with 15 percent, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni with 14 percent, and Vice Premier Shimon Peres with 12 percent of support.
Olmert is only at the fifth place, with only 7 percent of the public supporting him as the right person to lead them. Mofaz gets 5 percent and former Prime Minister Ehud Barak is supported by 3 percent of the public. Defense Minister Amir Peretz is at the bottom of the list with 1 percent of the public's support.
The survey findings are based on the responses of 499 people out of a representative sample of the adult population in Israel, and they will be published in full by Yedioth Ahronoth on Friday. The maximal sampling error is 4.5 percent