Nahum Barnea
It’s all about ego
Deficient Olmert-Barak relationship irresponsible and unforgivable

Four Qassams landed in the Gaza Region Tuesday; the first Qassams of the lull period. We need to do something, Olmert told Barak on the phone. We need to do something, Barak told Olmert. They agreed that the IDF will do something.


Israel’s deterrent power was hanging in the balance and the terrible lessons learned from past incidents where the other side violated ceasefire agreements and Israeli governments chose to show restraint; the sensitive ties Egypt were also on the line, and most of all, the tens of thousands of Israelis whose security was supposed to be guaranteed by the truce. Fateful matters.


However, the defense minister was thinking that his prime minister is a swindler, while the prime minister was thinking that his defense minister is a scoundrel. Both of them disillusioned themselves that they can hold a genuine, frank discussion on a life and death move, while one thinks the other is a scoundrel or a swindler.


This is dreadful situation. Irresponsible. Unforgivable. Tuesday morning, Olmert was in Sharm el-Sheikh for a meeting with President Mubarak; Barak was in Netiv Haasara, on the Gaza Strip border. Yet they were both looking to the politicians from Labor and Kadima, who were looking for a patent that would enable them to postpone the government’s demise by a few months.


Most of this story is about ego. Olmert knows his term in office is over. His enemies defeated him. Even if he manages to survive till March, he lost the ability to lead and the public trust needed to implement tough decisions. He is clinging to a hope for a miracle. Perhaps Talansky will disappear in the cross-examination; perhaps an external event would serve to reinvent him.


Clinging to power

As Olmert is a realistic man, I assume that more than he hopes for a miracle, he believes in clinging to power. As long as he is in the prime minister’s chair he must create the impression that he will be there forever. Otherwise, he will be eaten alive.


Most of this story is about ego for Barak as well. He finds it odd that when he orders Olmert to resign, Olmert does not rush to comply. He finds it odd that when he orders Kadima to hold primaries immediately, Kadima doesn’t do it. He does not command his own party, neither its Knesset faction nor ministers, but he must prove to the world that he controls Kadima.


Olmert, so they say, is not a bad prime minister. I didn’t hear anyone who attributes to him noble moral characteristics or is willing
to be reproached by him. Barak, so they say, understands security, and is a brilliant man with great analytical skills. When he wanted to quit the government over the Winograd Commission’s recommendations, he spoke using terms he was familiar with. Yet I didn’t hear anyone attribute to him familiarity with the area of public and social norms. Not after the affairs that characterized his time as prime minister; not after he moved to an upscale residential tower in Tel Aviv.


I am not here to judge between the two: Olmert is under investigation at this time and was also badly tainted at court; Barak is free of investigations at this time. Yet it is quite clear that both of them are not looking good in this story.


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