(Carl) If we as a country are foolish enough to do this, then we as a country deserve the lousy retread leadership we would get. A JPost poll has a ‘center left mega party’ including former Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert, former Prime Minister Tzipi Livni, convicted sex offender Haim Ramon (who once told Ted Koppel that if his party has just one more vote than the other side, they can crush the other side), and the vapid Yair Lapid, would win 31 Knesset seats as compared with 22 for the Likud.
The poll found that such a party would win more seats than Likud, which would receive 22 mandates. Yisrael Beytenu would come in third, with 14 mandates, closely followed by Labor with 12, and Shas with 11 seats.
The poll of 500 people representing the general population was conducted on October 9 and 10, and has a margin of error of 4.5 percent.
The poll results follow reports of progress on Wednesday by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s political opponents, in their efforts to build a “Center-Left mega-party” that could pose a serious challenge to him in the upcoming general election.
Netanyahu officially informed President Shimon Peres of his intention to advance the elections, in a meeting at the President’s Residence on Wednesday. Peres expressed hope that the elections would be clean.
Netanyahu finalized the election date on Thursday. The date is acceptable to all the coalition parties and is just two days after the inauguration of the president of the United States.
Ramon’s first preference is for former prime minister Ehud Olmert to lead the mega-party, which would bring together former Kadima head Tzipi Livni, current Kadima MKs and other well-known figures on the Left. He would also want Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid’s party to join.
Olmert told a stream of visitors to his office and home on Wednesday that he would decide whether to run within a week or two after receiving the results of in-depth surveys.
Livni, who met recently with Olmert, will not decide her political future until she returns from a lecture tour in the US in the middle of next week.
While popular former IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi is legally prevented from running for Knesset, Olmert, who is close to Ashkenazi, would present him as his candidate for defense minister if he chooses to make a comeback.
If Olmert heads a Center- Left bloc he would be able to form a coalition with religious parties and with Yisrael Beytenu, whose leader, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, met with Olmert this week.
Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz has said in closed conversations that he would not stand in the way of an Olmert comeback, but he is not expected to cooperate with an effort to reinstate Livni as head of the Center-Left bloc after he defeated her by a landslide in Kadima’s leadership race.
Itzik expressed confidence that Mofaz would be willing to make political compromises for the good of the country.
(Olmert headlines offer short-term hype | The Times of Israel) Interestingly, only two papers give front-page prominence to the story that was all the talk yesterday, namely the release of a legal report announcing that Israel is not the occupying force everybody believes it to be. One might expect that a paper penned by a former Supreme Court justice and commissioned by the prime minister, which recommends legalizing most West Bank outposts and strikes at the heart of Israel’s national character, would make more noise. But as it happens only Haaretz and Israel Hayom thought it was Page 1-worthy.
Haaretz, as might be expected of a stalwart left-wing publication, comes out against the report’s findings with a front-page editorial calling for its shredding. Israel Hayom meanwhile highlights the report’s warm embrace by the right and its calls for the government to adopt the findings and shift policies accordingly.
I’m glad Olmert was cleared and I’m glad Olmert was wronged
(Washington Post) GALI TIBBON/AFP/GETTY IMAGES – Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert speaks to the press at the District Court in Jerusalem on Tuesday after hearing the verdict in his trial where he was acquitted on two key corruption charges while finding him guilty on a lesser charge.
JERUSALEM – An Israeli court on Tuesday cleared former prime minister Ehud Olmert of two corruption charges–including a bribery accusation that led to his resignation in 2008, as he was trying to negotiate peace with the Palestinians–but convicted him of a lesser charge of fraud and breach of trust.
While some commentators hailed the mixed verdict as proof of an independent justice system, the decision was widely viewed as an embarrassing blow to Israeli prosecutors, and it raised questions about whether an overly-aggressive investigation had wrongly driven Olmert from office.
Olmert was convicted of fraud and breach of trust in connection with a case dating to 2006, when he was a government minister. But he was acquitted of more serious charges that he had pocketed envelopes stuffed with hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from a wealthy New Yorker, Morris Talansky, and that he double-billed state agencies and charities for overseas flights while he was a minister and mayor of Jerusalem.
“There was no corruption. There was no taking of money, there was no use of money, there were no cash envelopes,” Olmert said after the ruling on Tuesday.
Olmert was thrust to power in 2006 after his then-boss, former prime minister, Ariel Sharon, suffered a stroke. Olmert led Israel through an inconclusive but damaging war with the Lebanese militant movement Hezbollah that summer and re-started long-dormant negotiations with the Palestinians in 2007.
At the time, those talks appeared to have little traction, and they were cut short by an Israeli military offensive in the Gaza Strip in late 2008 and early 2009.
Elections after Olmert’s resignation ushered in the current administration of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his conservative Likud party. Peace talks have been essentially moribund since.
Yoel Hasson, a lawmaker from Olmert’s centrist Kadima party, told the Israeli news Web site Ynetnews.com on Tuesday that he hoped Olmert would return to politics. The corruption accusations, he said, had “wronged one of the best prime ministers Israel has ever had…the Israeli public finally understands that a prime minister was impeached for nothing.”
After Olmert’s resignation, both he and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said they were close to a pact in 2008. Former U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice has written that Olmert secretly presented a map for a Palestinian state that included international control of holy sites in Jerusalem, but Abbas did not agree to it.
11 July ’12..
(Love of the Land: Glick – Thoughts on Olmert’s partial acquittal)I have not had the opportunity to read the court decision on Olmert. And so my thoughts on his acquittal have little to do with the merits of the prosecution in the three cases adjudicated by the Jerusalem District Court.
I have a problem with corruption investigations against politicians generally and against Ehud Olmert specifically. In general, I find these sorts of investigations against politicians inherently biased. I take my cue from the Federalist Papers, and there I believe it was James Madison who explained that the presumption has to be that politicians are all corrupt. Their power puts them in contact with powerful and wealthy men who use their proximity to politicians to advance their interests. The larger government is – that is, the larger government’s influence over the economic life of a society, the greater the likelihood of corruption. The more power a politician exerts over the economy, the larger his propensity to take bribes from people interested in making a profit.
This is the way of the world. And in our world, where governments control enormous welfare states and therefore exert massive influence over the economic life of a country, the assumption ought to be that all politicians are corrupt.
This assumption then leads to the clear conclusion that every corruption investigation and prosecution of politicians is inherently discriminatory. If all politicians are on the take to greater or lesser degrees, then the decision regarding who to investigate is essentially a decision about who to single out. And therefore, all corruption investigations of politicians are by their nature unjust. The investigations are themselves corrupt.
These understandings led Madison and his colleagues to the conclusion that all government should be limited as much as possible. It also led them to call for a system of checks and balances so that all arms of government checked one another’s power.
In Israel, (and increasingly in the US as we see with the Obamacare ruling), the third branch of government – the judiciary – has become increasingly unhinged from this system. In Israel, the judiciary has effectively co-opted the state prosecution. Under the de facto control of the judiciary, the prosecution has leveraged itself into a position where, like the judiciary, it appoints and promotes its own without answering to elected officials. This situation has weakened severely Israel’s democratic system, attenuating the ability of the public to control its government or trust its institutions.
It is due to these twin issues – the assumption that power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely and therefore all people with power can be assumed to be corrupt; and the imperial nature of Israel’s legal system – that I view all corruption scandals in Israel with great suspicion. We have consistently seen the tendency of the legal fraternity to selectively prosecute corruption allegations in order to advance the fortunes of the Left against the Right.
And this brings me to my special difficulty with the legal prosecution of Olmert.
Objectively speaking, Olmert was the worst prime minister that Israel has ever had. And that is saying a lot. He had stiff competition from Ehud Barak, but he managed to outdo him in incompetence and general failure to meet the challenge of the office he aspired to in his unmitigated shamelessness and hubris.
Olmert lost the war with Hezbollah in 2006. He lost Israel’s campaign against Hamas in 2008-2009. He failed to block Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. He weakened Israel’s international position and its alliance with the US. And so on and so forth.
The public never forgave him for his failed leadership in the 2006 war. And rightly so. There can be no forgivIng or forgetting his decision to send forces to their deaths in battle AFTER he had already accepted the ceasefire ensuring that none of their action would make any difference. I believe that 34 IDF soldiers died in the last 36 hours of the war that took place AFTER Olmert had agreed to the ceasefire.
And this brings us to the issue of his alleged corruption.
The Israeli media specifically, and the left generally holds the lion’s share of responsibility for the outbreak of the 2006 war due to its massive propaganda campaign to coerce successive governments into withdrawing from southern Lebanon in 2000. Had Israel not run away in May 2000, Hezbollah would not have been free to attack Israel in 2006. It’s that simple.
In 2006, the media were unwilling to acknowledge the cause for the war – them. So right after it was over, they sought to bury it and forget all about it. But the public would not put it behind them. The reservists called up to serve in the war and risk their lives for a war their government decided to lose formed a protest movement and marched on Jerusalem demanding Olmert’s resignation.
The establishment tried to deflect their anger first by seeking to discredit them. Led by Channel 10’s Raviv Drucker, the media sought to castigate the reservists by accusing them of being closet right wingers whose only goal was to avenge the expulsions from Gaza.
When that didn’t work, they tried to punt by forming the Winograd Commission to investigate the war. The mandate of the committee was to begin its investigation with what happened AFTER the unilateral withdrawal of May 2000. By so determining the mandate of the commission, the establishment ensured that no attention would be paid to the cause of the war – Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon.
But even the Winograd Commission’s findings couldn’t assuage the public’s hatred for Olmert. So the media decided to sacrifice him to the wolves of the state prosecution on corruption charges. They decided that Olmert had to be sacrificed to protect their ideology. And so he was. It is a scandal of historic proportions that Olmert was ousted for anything other than his unforgivably failed leadership of the country in war. His alleged corruption was at best a tertiary concern.
There is now some talk of Olmert making a political comeback. All I can say to that is that if the Israeli public is stupid enough to allow him back in power, then we deserve what we get. But I don’t believe this talk.
The one possible silver lining in all of this is that Olmert’s partial acquittal has put the prosecution in the dock. If its failure to convict Olmert finally empowers the Knesset to reign in our out of control prosecutors, then perhaps it can be said that there was a divine plan to all of this. But since I am in no position to understand God’s design, all I can say is that there are no heroes in this story. The bad guys won, and the bad guys lost.
New memoir by former secretary of state reveals details on Israeli-Palestinian peace talks; was “impressed” by Olmert’s desire for a deal.
Rice said that in spring of 2008 both she and then-president George W. Bush had “both been impressed by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s desire to get a deal.”
The former secretary of state recounted an evening in Jerusalem in May when she was asked to dine alone with Olmert. The then-prime minister presented her with an outline for a peace plan.
“I know what [Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas] needs. He needs something on refugees and on Jerusalem. I’ll give him enough land, maybe something like 94 percent with swaps. I have an idea about Jerusalem. There will be two capitals, one for us in west Jerusalem and one for the Palestinians in east Jerusalem.
The mayor of the joint-city council will be selected by population percentage. That means an Israeli mayor, so the deputy should be a Palestinian. We will continue to provide security for the Holy sites because we can assure access to them,” Olmert told her.
“I’ll accept some Palestinians into Israel, maybe five thousand.
I don’t want it to be called ‘family reunification’ because they have too many cousins; we won’t be able to control it. I’ve been thinking about how to administer the Old City. There should be a committee of people – not officials but wise people – from Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the Palestinians, the United States and Israel. They will oversee the city but not in a political role,” he continued.
Rice recalled her incredulity: “Am I really hearing this? I wondered. Is the Israeli prime minister saying that he’ll divide Jerusalem and put an international body in charge of the Holy sites? Concentrate. Write this down. No, don’t write it down. What if it leaks? It can’t leak; it’s just the two of us.”
Rice said that she visited Abbas in Ramallah the next day. “I sketched out the details of Olmert’s proposal and told him how the prime minister wanted to proceed. Abbas started negotiating immediately. “I can’t tell four million Palestinians that only 5,000 of them can go home,” he said.”
While Rice is silent on the ensuing breakdown of talks – missing pieces are actually supplied by the Palestine Papers – documents memorializing 10 years of Palestinian-Israeli negotiations that were stolen from Saeb Erekat’s office and posted on al-Jazeera’s website last January.
Although Palestinian negotiators spoke publicly about compromise on refugees, privately they spoke of the “right of return” as a matter of individual choice that would have to be extended to each of over seven million people and with Palestinians retaining the open-ended right to try to negotiate additional “returns” beyond any number initially agreed upon in a peace treaty.
Abbas was simply unprepared to accept any offer that did not allow for the “right of return.”
Rice recounted how on September 16, 2008 Olmert presented Abbas with a groundbreaking offer for a two-state solution including a map outlining the territory of a Palestinian state. Rice confirmed reports that Olmert insisted that Abbas sign then and there, but that Abbas “demurred, wanting to consult his experts before signing.”
Olmert, Rice said, refused to give Abbas the map – a fact that the Palestinians have said proves that Olmert’s offer was not serious.
But the Palestine Papers indicate that on September 16, the Palestinians drew-up a map that seems to outline with great specificity the offer made by Olmert, in spite of the fact that they complained he would not give them a copy of the map.
Abbas asked for a meeting the next day with his advisers present.
The meeting the next day was never held – Rice did not say why, but Olmert has since said that he received a call from Saeb Erekat requesting that the meeting be postponed.
The US administration seems to have been unaware that in preparation for the September 16 meeting the PA was trying to generate escape plans from reaching a binding agreement with Olmert, while at the same time avoiding being blamed for not reaching a final status agreement.
“SE [PA Negotiator Saeb Erekat] thinks there are three ways [Abbas] could respond: (1) Give [Olmert] our Framework Agreement on Permanent Status, (2) Issue general communique about Annapolis progress, (3) Simply say no to the offer,” one September 9, 2008 memo from Hala Rasheed read.
“He wants us to think up other ways to respond. Whatever we propose, he wants to make sure that: (a) we are not blamed, (b) [negotiations] are uninterrupted, and (c) no submission is made that we cannot retract.”
A memo to other NSU members dated September 16 from Wassim Khazmo, a communications adviser on the PA negotiating team, revealed that Palestinians intended to treat the September 16 meeting as “ceremonial” rather than directed toward advancing negotiations and possibly reaching a peace agreement.
“In order to avoid the blame game, the President today is going with a positive attitude, where he will ask more questions from Olmert on his offer, and he will tell him that the Palestinians will respond later,” Khazmo wrote.
Khazmo was particularly concerned that Abbas avoid what he described as “Olmert’s media stunts.”
Even after the September 16 meeting failed to culminate in a peace deal, Rice said that she continued to push hard for talks, “worried that there might never be another chance like this one.”
Her memoirs, however, are silent on the revelation in the Palestine Papers that the Palestinians were concerned by her insistence on advancing the peace plan.
Obama, come back and massage my Hebrew Hiney again. You’ve been a pain in my tuchus for so long! now be gentle and don’t tell anyone (h/t Yoel and EOZ ) From Eli Lake at The Daily Beast/Newsweek:
Kiss and Tell
Syria placed long-range missiles equipped with chemical warheads on high alert after an attack on a Syrian nuclear plant in 2007, WikiLeaks documents obtained by Yedioth Ahronoth indicate.
In March 2008, then Prime Minister Ehud Olmet met with then Minority Leader of the US House of Representatives John Boehner and several US congressmen. Olmert addressed Operation Cast Lead which was in the final planning states and said that Israel had plans to cause considerable damage to Hamas in Gaza. He then added that the government was considering when and how to act.
…When confronted with a question on the attack on the Syrian nuclear plant in Deir ez Zor, the former prime minister said he never publically addressed the matter but noted the fact that gas tanks belonging to Israeli planes were found near the Syrian-Turkish border.
“Bashar is no dummy,” he added, since he decided not to respond to the September 2007 event. Olmert said that Syria’s mobile missile system were on full alert, but that Assad decided not to order them to fire. “That took discipline,” he noted.
Opponents of Israel’s legal and historical rights to Judea and Samaria raise a powerful and persuasive argument: Israel faces a “demographic crisis;” the Arab population between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River will soon outnumber that of the Jews, and the nature of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state is in danger. They argue, therefore, that Israel must withdraw from what was known, under Jordanian occupation, as the “West Bank,” (to distinguish it from Jordan’s “East Bank”), including “eastern Jerusalem,” the Old City and Temple Mount, and create a second Arab Palestinian state (after Jordan); the Golan Heights, in this plan, would revert to Syria. This, they argue, would avoid charges of “occupation,” “oppression,” “racism,” “apartheid,” etc.; it does not relate to Palestinian Arabs who are Israeli citizens, or the “Nakba,” (Catastrophe) in 1948, Israel’s creation and what Palestinians consider “occupation.”
The “demographic argument” was used to convince former PM Yitzhak Rabin to agree to the Oslo Accords, and was promoted by the dominant left-wing media, former PMs Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert, Israeli ministers and politicians, and PM Netanyahu. There’s only one problem: it’s a myth, part of a campaign to destroy the settlement movement; it has been thoroughly refuted by various studies, including Bar-Ilan University’s The Million Person Gap and work undertaken by The Institute for Zionist Strategies,
The fact is that today, nearly all non-Israeli Palestinians living in Judea, Samaria and Gaza are under the PA. The Gaza Strip, under Hamas, a designated terrorist organization, is a separate entity, with its own army and administration, supported by the PA, but opposed to its controlling group, Fatah. “The occupation,” therefore, at least that since 1967, refers to territory, not people.
The legal status of the area is disputed and has never been adjudicated by a court of law. Organizations like the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the UN and EU, political groups, and governments regard the area as “occupied” by Israel, without determining to whom it belongs; the question of its sovereignty is moot, subject to negotiation.
According to the Oslo Accords, Judea and Samaria was divided into three regions: A (under total PA control); B (under PA civilian control); C (under Israeli control). No Jews reside in areas A and B (comprising an estimated million-and-a-half residents); all Jewish communities/settlements (over 300,000 Jews) are in area C, along with about a few tens of thousands of Arab Palestinians (there are no accurate figures). In addition, over 200, 000 Jews live in new neighborhoods of Jerusalem established after 1967; these areas have already been virtually annexed.
There’s no crisis
If the entire area of Judea and Samaria is considered as a single unit, the demographic argument looks overwhelming. But, when the areas are separated – viewing area C alone, as distinctly Jewish – the perspective is quite different; there is no demographic threat.
Similarly, large concentrations of Arabs reside in pre-1967 Israel, primarily in the Negev and the Galilee. Looking at the entire population between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River, using the demographic argument, the situation looks grim, with Jews and Arabs almost equal. When the areas are seen as discrete, however, the perspective changes, and the alleged demographic threat dissipates.
The argument that withdrawal is necessary to “preserve Israel’s Jewish character,” moreover, is vague, and contradicts the support for including hundreds of thousands of non-Jews, Arabs, Africans, and others seeking to live in Israel. Concern for the humanitarian rights of illegal immigrants seems to trump maintaining Israel’s Jewish identity.
Moreover, an estimated several hundreds of thousands of immigrants from the former Soviet Union who are not Jewish, many with no connection to Judaism, were given citizenship. Although many of them serve in the IDF and have applied for conversion, this is a controversial issue between those who expect sincere commitment according to Jewish law, and those who demand less, or none at all.
In other words, demographic arguments, including questions like, “Who is a Jew?” and “What is Israelism?” are complicated societal issues which cannot be resolved, or understood by simplistic notions, manipulating statistics, and hyping scare tactics.
There is no crisis, nor urgency to abandon Judea and Samaria in order to save the State of Israel. In fact, given realistic assessments of the threat a Palestinian state poses to Israel, the most reasonable solution is to leave things as they are.
The author is an historian, writer and journalist living in Jerusalem