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Attila Somfalvi Photo: Gabi Menashe
Attila Somfalvi Photo: Gabi Menashe
 
 

Olmert safe for now

PM conveys sense of stability; Likud losing hope of toppling government soon

Attila Somfalvi
Published: 08.15.07, 07:53 / Israel Opinion

Perhaps it was Olmert, or perhaps the warm and humid reality that recently managed to confuse the politicians. Suddenly, nothing is certain. Not Winograd, not the toppling of the government, not the elections – not even the sense among Likud members that regaining power is merely a matter of time, and not much time at that.

 

In days where most Israelis are concerned about surviving the heat, their prime minister is simply concerned with surviving – conveying stability and a sense that he is here to stay.

 

Time and again, his people make sure to make clear that he does not intend to vacate his seat in the near future - Even if Winograd publishes his report, a move that Olmert is attempting to torpedo via the High Court of Justice.

 

The prime minister is counting on another round of testimonies that would give him plenty of breathing space.

 

"It can take a year and half," an official at the Prime Minister's Office says. "Winograd won't last. They won't be able to do it, they
will fall apart. And even if they don't, it will take a very long time – and nobody will remember that we even had Winograd. It will become irrelevant."

 

Even among Likud ranks they are starting to lose hope. A senior Likud official, who has been in the political system for many years, estimated this week that there is no chance of elections taking place in the coming year.

 

"Even if we have elections," the senior official said, "they will only take place a year from today, at the earliest."

 

'Final report won't make a difference'

 

Likud members are looking left and right in the Knesset and see that nobody is quick to grant them the pleasure of toppling the government.

 

"They don't want elections," the senior official says. "Nobody wishes to move, while Winograd is weakening and fading away. This entire story is fading."

 

The prime minister is also preparing for the possibility that his attempt to thwart the publication of the final Winograd report will be foiled, and it will be publicized nonetheless. However, sources around him estimate that nothing will happen this time too.

 

"The interim report did its thing – the final one won't be much different," one source said. "So they'll be writing the same thing again – it won't change reality. Nobody will be excited by this thing."

 

It is very possible that Olmert and his advisors are living in a fantasy world. On the other hand, they may be right. Meanwhile, they don't take chances and are pushing with full force the diplomatic move vis-à-vis the Palestinians.

 

Officials in Israel hope that maybe this time around, the Palestinians will get serious.

 

"They realize now to a much greater extent what we said about Hamas all those years," says a senior minister well familiar with the defense establishment. "After what happened in Gaza, they understand the danger posed by Hamas. Therefore, they must start to act."

 

"The era of talking is over, now it's time to move to actions, to activity against Hamas," the minister says, and adds that if the Palestinians continue to exercise control on the ground, we cannot reject the possibility of an Israeli withdrawal from the territories within about a year.

 

"But everything depends on them," he says.

 

 

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