Aug 22, 2006
The sh*t is hitting the fan
Today (along with the past 3 or so days) has been an interesting day in the Israeli political scene.
- The police just raided the Presidents residence as part of the ongoing investigation into sexual assault charges, which have recently been bumped up to rape charges.
- The calls for Ehud Olmert and Amir Peretz (and Dan Halutz but less so) to resign have increased. The media have been almost completely calling for the end of the careers of these people for the past few days, increasingly so as time goes on.
- The calls and momentum for a State Inquiry into the Lebanon 2 war/conflict have been increasing. The greatest of which came last night from a group of a few hundred reservists protesting outside the PMO. They are upset with being ripped out of their homes, lives and responsibilities to be sent out as cannon fodder with improper equipment, unclear orders, orders that were constantly changing, not enough training before sent into the field, lacking food supplies in battle, etc. They claim a simple investigation, such as that Olmert and Peretz are pushing for, will not have the "teeth" to find out all the issues nor to force implementation of the conclusions and findings. A State Inquiry is more serious and has more "teeth".
- Every day new stories from the war are publicized from reservists which show how poorly and negligently they were treated.
- The Israeli message boards and forums are exploding with calls for Olmert to resign before he destroys the country and its morale any more.
- The home front is upset. Olmert went touring some of the northern cities and towns that were hit by katyushas and was met with extremely harsh criticism. People wanted to know where he wa suntil yesterday. They wanted to know why he ignored their plight until nearly the end of the war. They did not evacuate the infirm until nearly the third week. Why did they have to sit in bomb shelters for so long? How will they recover their businesses? Why should they have been forced to rely on private donations (blessed as they are), such as from Arkady Gaidemak who spent nearly 15 million dollars of his own money to provide shelter for a few thousand refugees from the north - why did the government not do anything? Why are those private donors being forced to pay all costs of government participation in such shelter (such as ambulatory expenses, police expenses, etc.) after having absorbed all the rest of the expenses? and many other questions. Olmert had no answer other than to say it is time to look forward and he will not participate in self-flagellation. Needless to say, people in the north are not happy.
- Various government ministers are shooting off their mouths in all sorts of directions. The day after Olmert criticized Syria as the cause of most of the conflict, Avi Dichter, the Minister of Internal Security, spoke up about offering the whole Golan Heights to Syria in exchange for peace. That was after Amir Peretz made similar statements and then backtracked. Whether you believe in such a position or not, it was clearly embarassing for Olmert to have a senior minister from his own party make such a statement right after he criticized Syria. It is thought that Dichter and others already smell Olmerts blood and are positioning themselves for the fight to lead the Kadima party.
- The coalition is starting to crumble. MKs from the Labor party today voted against the governments position on budget cuts for the purpose of rehabbing the north. They, led by Olmerts nemesis Avishai Braverman, refused to cut budgets from people in the Negev in order to find money for the north. They claim there is money in other places that can be used for this purpose. The vote did not pass for the second time in as many attempts and Kadima is furious that Labor has become an unreliable partner. Avigdor Yitzchaki, "CEO" of Kadima and head of the coalition has threatened to throw Labor out on the street and re-enter new coalition negotiations. The days of the coalitions are clearly numbered.
- Haim Ramon, a senior minister in Kadima and a close friend of Olmert, resigned Sunday due to an indictement for indecent assault. He might survive the indictement because according to the reports it is basically her word against his, though police consider her word credible, but this spells more trouble for Olmert and Kadima.
All this along with other issues on the table, such as Tzachi Hangbis indictement, an investigation into Olmerts bribery affair and more, are all threatening the stability of the current government.
Where will it all lead to? Looks like elections are on the horizon.. though I think unless something really dramatic happens, such as an indictement of Olmert for bribery or Iran attacks, a State INquiry forces his resignation or anything dramatic like that, I think Olmert has the staying power to survive this for a few more months. He will take a low profile and try to wait it out and focus on other things. He has always been a master of spin and will find a way to make this go away for a while. But he will only be able to hold it off for a bit. Sooner or later though we will be having new elections.