Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Ouch – That Hurts!

Findings in the release of the Winograd report on Monday, April 30, have made Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's problematic leadership even more troublesome for him as well as others in his cabinet. Polls conducted by several local media sources have concluded that around 69% of the country's population think that he should resign his office; and an even larger percentage, 75%, believe that Defense Minister Amr Peretz should also begin cleaning out his desk. Both men, as well as former IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz, were found to be responsible for the way last summer's Lebanon II war was carried out, with the report's committee, headed by former Tel Aviv District Judge Eliahu Winograd , laying the majority of the blame on Olmert himself for hastily sending Israeli air and ground forces against the Hezbollah in Lebanon without a clear-cut military strategy.

The end results, after 34 days of mayhem on both sides of the Israel-Lebanese border, brought misery and suffering to both countries, and left the Hezbollah in an even stronger and more popular position that prior to the conflict. And the two captive IDF servicemen, Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser remain in Hezbollah hands.

Despite the severity of the report, both Olmert and Peretz refuse to vacate their offices, and though Peretz was noted as being completely unqualified to hold the defense ministry portfolio, he seems unwilling to accept reality and even talks about taking another cabinet position, the finance ministry, as well as even running for prime minister as the Labor Party's head in the next election. The third person shouldering much of the blame for the war is former IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz. Halutz, now in the U.S.A. on a study sabbatical at Harvard University, resigned his position three months ago. That position is now filled by Major General Gaby Ashkenazi. As COS during the war, Halutz's command of the armed forces left many questions concerning the IDF's ability to fight the kind of guerrilla warfare that the Hezbollah forces have become known for. Also not answered is how to protect the public against the onslaught of Kaitusha and other missiles launched at Israeli civilian targets, even paralyzing the country's third largest city, Haifa.

It is being said that should elections be held in Israel now, Olmert's center based Kadima party will loose many Knesset seats, with many of them going back to the right-winged Likud Party, from whence many Knssset members fled to join Kadima, which was founded in September, 2005 by former prime minister Ariel Sharon. Needless to say, the Likud's present chairman, Binyamin (Bibi) Natanyahu must be enjoying the spectacle and planning his next political move as well. Following one of his party's worst election showings in it's history, with only 11 seats after the March, 2006 elections, the Likud now stands to rise again to its former glory, with Natanyahu at the crest of the wave.

Regarding Olmert and the rest of the Kadima Party, many are wondering if they will go the direction of another former short-lived party, Shinui, and fade away into political oblivion. As for Olmert himself, his political "oblivion" may be just around the corner


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