Thursday, January 10, 2008

Countdown to Winograd

The Ehud Olmert-George Bush lovefest ends tomorrow, and thank G-d for that; as a resident of Jerusalem I am tired of the city wide "house arrest" that has been imposed for the duration of the American President's visit. This visit to the Middle East cost the American taxpayers $40 million dollars, and has cost Israel over 25 million shequel as well, because of the increased police presence and the closure of public transportation and businesses for three days.

It should be noted that Bush and Olmert did not visit Sderot, where citizens are bombed and under serious threat on a daily basis. Nor did Bush speak with Hamas in Aza, towards the goal of limiting terrorist activity or returning the three Israeli MIAs, kidnapped close to two years ago.
This trip involved sight-seeing and glad-handling, so that Bush's presidency would record one visit to this area - meeting with a weak Olmert and an equally lame Abbas -before his second term ends on the note of general miserable failure.

Once Bush leaves on Friday, Ehud Olmert will not be able to escape the impending publication of the Winograd Committee's report, a document that by all accounts and rumors will demand the immediate resignation of Olmert and many of his senior staff and ministers. Olmert, however, should not shoulder the consequences on his own.

At the very least his Foreign Minister and fellow member of the Kadima party, Tzippi Livini, should resign as well. Recent reports revealed that Livni had the opportunity, only one week after the kidnapping of the MIAs, to return two of the three men safely into Israeli hands, and she botched the negotiations. Now we don't have access to any information about these soldiers, the government cannot even state with certainty that they are still alive.

Ehud Barak of the Labour party has indicated that he may leave the coalition and force early elections. Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu of the Likud party has called for Olmert's resignation even before the final report becomes the main event, as the Prime Minister is already under suspicion in several criminal investigations. Olmert has responded by saying that he will "never" leave his office, and that as the person who made the mistakes cited in the report, he is in the best position to resolve them.

A leader in a democracy must take full responsibility for his errors, and cannot hold himself outside the law he claims to represent. Olmert must leave now, before he perpetrates any more damage on Israel and its citizens.

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