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Yitzhak Shomron Photo: Photo Denia
Yitzhak Shomron Photo: Photo Denia

Olmert's tests

Prime minister shows resilience, deserves another chance

Yitzhak Shomron
Published: 09.14.06, 18:39 / Israel Opinion

In light of current realities, where every day brings with it new revelations, it's difficult o determine whether Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is fashioned from the elements long-term leaders are made of.


Despite the unprecedented storm Olmert finds himself facing, and despite the scathing criticism, at least one important achievement can be attributed to the PM: He didn't break.


Olmert did not capitulate in the face the tortuous road of approving the state budget or the Labor party's threats. He also did not break in the face of the demands for a full state inquiry into the war or the huge protests where signs calling on him to quit were held up.


"It should be clear," he said. "We cannot replace governments within short periods of time."


His many critics argued he has neither control over the situation nor an objective. This, however, was not the impression of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who characterized Olmert as focused, energetic, and determined. Indeed, Olmert is focused. He knows he can expect many struggles, both internal and external, and must therefore maintain room for maneuvering.


Therefore, in the political arena for example, he is not quick to change his partnership with the crumbling Labor party, which allows him to maintain many future options open. He was able to bend Labor party "rebels" and if serious crises ensue he has both the Likud and Israel Our Home at his disposal.


Grace period

Many observers consider Olmert to be chameleon-like. He knows he can resort to new moves in order to establish an alternate coalition and therefore announced his willingness to forego the unilateral realignment and signaled to right-wing factions he is willing to modify diplomatic objectives.


It appears Olmert is also dealing honorably with the personal pressures exerted on him in relation to accusations over apartments he owns. In the past he has already proven he's a sophisticated attorney who makes sure his deals are legally sound.


At this time, Israel is at a political, diplomatic, and security crossroads. Does Olmert deserve another 100-day grace period? Possibly, but the countdown should began not from the day he was sworn-in, but rather, from the current situation. 


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