Photo: Eldad Refaeli
Amnon Levy
Photo: Eldad Refaeli
Replace Olmert with Peres
Elder statesman can bring peace and stability, avoid war
It isn't easy to come here and propose that an 83-year-old man should be elected to the post of prime minister, but that's exactly what I intend to do: Shimon Peres for prime minister.


Considering the current state of the country – the terrible disappointment over the leading Olmert-Peretz team and the big fear of the Netanyahu-Lieberman alternative – choosing the perennial Peres is the lesser of evils. If Kadima wishes to remain vital, its grand mission now is to replace the prime minister. Olmert won't be delivering. He may take his entire party down with him, as the polls show.


If Olmert goes, what other feasible options among the ruling party are there? Two people: Tzipi Livni and Shimon Peres. Both of them aren't ideal – she's too young for the job, he's too old. But at times of no alternative, we must choose.


And in choosing between the two of them, I would prefer Peres at this junction. He, as an interim prime minister until elections, would be able to stabilize the political system, which so much needs calm. He will bring quiet.


Peres is a man of peace, and even at his old age, if there's an opportunity for negotiations, he won't miss it. At the same time, he's wise enough to realize that war can and always should be missed. If they listened to him, we wouldn't have found ourselves entangled in the second Lebanon war.


In any case, Olmert must go home. He has nothing more to sell us. In the past two weeks he opened his heart to any newspaper and channel across the country. I read most of the interviews and asked myself: What did he actually say?


There was talk about his controversial Jerusalem apartment (ranging from the blueprints to the receipts,) about the captives (he swore not to leave Lebanon until we release them,) about the war (just and legitimate,) about Amir Peretz (a worthy partner,) and about the fact that even today he's certain, completely certain, that all his decisions were wise and proper.


He has no diplomatic vision, no insights regarding what happened, and no pangs of consciences. All he has is a wise guy's legal maneuvering, which is certainly not wise.


No credibility

Arik Sharon had Dov Weisglass for this kind of talk. Ehud Olmert is his own Weisglass. The problem is that the seat above him is vacant. Empty. There's no leadership here. There's no vision here. There's certainly no credibility here. After reading through those many interviews, not only wouldn't I be buying a used car from this man - I wouldn't even buy a valve for my bicycle from him.


We must replace Olmert with Peres and go for a grand diplomatic movie. Syria is signaling that it wants negotiations. It's hard to exaggerate the importance of such talks for us. Syria, Iran's ally on the one hand, and Hizbullah's arms supplier on the other, is a central link in what we like to refer to as the "axis of evil."


And yet, Syria declared, and not once but rather, in a series of statements, and not by low-level officials but rather, from the horse's mouth, that it's interested in peace, and that this peace can be reached quickly, possibly even within six months.


Olmert doesn’t want to hear about negotiations with Syria. He apparently realizes that a prime minister with a seven percent approval rating cannot go for such a dramatic move. Shimon Peres, with the authority of the elder statesman and with the insight that such move could be the highlight of his long diplomatic creation, can certainly face this challenge.


Kadima officials are already starting to realize there's a problem here. The coalition chairman already spoke about Olmert's lack of leadership. Now, all that's left is to carry this out. Because if they don't undertake a cleanup and replace their leader - the public will replace them.


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