Photo: Gabi Menashe
Survival skills. Somfalvi
Photo: Gabi Menashe
Will Olmert survive this time?
PM survived failed war, several investigations, but latest affair may be political deathblow

There is no doubt now: Destiny does not miss any opportunity to test Olmert’s nerves and survival skills. Of all the difficult moments that the prime minister faced since assuming the post, the latest affair came at the worst timing for him. Just when it appeared that he controls the situation and the bad winds are calming a little, and just when more people were willing to give him another chance – he is hit with the investigation, which ruins everything he built and reminds us of all the bad thoughts about him. That’s the last thing he needed.


Whether true or not, the reports regarding the latest investigation are very grave. Even if there is an iota of truth in them, it is hard to believe that Ehud Olmert would be able to continue serving as prime minister; the thought of bundles of cash reaching the hands of the most important man in our political hierarchy prompt deep revulsion.


The public and our politicians would not be able to digest now what they were willing to swallow when it came from Ariel Sharon and his sons. Those were different times, days of big moves and great indifference. The popular Sharon shook up the country with the disengagement plan, and a monthly salary of $20,000 to his son Gilad seemed legitimate, even if it was paid for surfing the Internet. However, today the situation is different: Ever since he assumed the post, Olmert lost a war, was interrogated four times, and is doing badly in the polls. The clouds hovering above his head are dark, and even a political artist such as Olmert would find it difficult to maneuver with the new suspicions.


One attorney said that based on media reports, either Olmert needs to go home, or Attorney General Menachem Mazuz needs to order him to pack up his bags. “When you adopt such a legally violent action against the prime minister,” the attorney said, referring to the special permit to investigate the PM urgently “you must possess something very dramatic, and if you don’t have such thing, and you are an attorney general who approves such tumultuous probe, you better think about retiring.”


What will Barak do?  

Meanwhile, the political system is putting out feelers, whispering, and mostly guessing. At this time, nobody has real and credible information regarding what is happening in the prime minister’s investigation. Therefore, the politicians are waiting for developments and media reports. The sense is that now of all times something big may happen.


The quiet that currently prevails in the political system could give rise, in the coming days, to a grave political crisis that would shake up the country and the political system. Those who were looking for reasons to topple the government can now find them at the Fraud Investigation Unit.


If the affair becomes messy, the first to rock the boat would be the Labor Party. Its leaders won’t be able to allow themselves to sit idle in a government whose leader is facing such severe suspicions. If Ehud Barak indeed means what he says when he utters thousands of words regarding the importance of the rule of law, he would not be able to ignore this investigation. And if the Labor Party does not ignore it, the scent of elections will be back in the air.


On the other hand, we must recall Olmert’s exceptional political abilities to survive. Serious affairs were already associated with him, commentary that calculates his political demise has been written countless times, yet he fought back and survived. It is possible that in a few more days it will again turn out that talk of his departure was premature, and some commentators will have to eat their hat. 


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