Olmert's successor

AFTER months of speculation and desperately trying to hold on to power, Ehud Olmert has finally given in to the demands from opposition and his own party to step down.

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

Published: Sat 2 Aug 2008, 10:11 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 3:54 PM

Even though the Israeli leader's exit had been expected for some time, his decision to finally call it a day seems to have taken the opposition as well as the governing Kadima party unawares.

It has sparked a frantic race for the top job with top politicians in the ruling Kadima party as well as its coalition partner Labour throwing their hats into the ring.

On the other hand, the opposition Likud is pushing for early elections to settle the leadership issue. Former PM and hardliner Netanyahu is hoping to return to power riding on an anti-establishment wave. However, rabble-rousers like Netanyahu are hardly likely to benefit from Olmert's fall.

The Israeli PM may be facing a confidence crisis but the governing Kadima and Labour are likely to survive the crisis. They still appear to command the centre-stage of the Israeli politics. This is not because of Olmert's extraordinary leadership skills or achievements but because of the middle ground the coalition has come to occupy over the past couple of years.

Even though Olmert and the coalition have repeatedly failed to make use of opportunities to strike peace with the Palestinians, the Israelis are likely to stick with the current lot. Because the coalition is expected to continue the so-called dialogue and peace process with the Palestinians, even though it has achieved little over the past couple of years after Sharon's exit.

Besides, as far as Israeli voters are concerned, compared to other alternatives, this coalition may be the best they've got.

But if the coalition manages to stay united and avoid fresh elections, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, the number 2 in the party, could step into the prime minister's shoes. She is considered a "moderate" — whatever that means — and enjoys relatively cleaner reputation in the tainted Israeli politics.

However, as Israel's history proves, there is likely to be little change in the Jewish entity's basic policies towards the Palestinians and its hawkish stance on all other issues including relations with its Arab and Muslim neighbours.

A great deal is being made of Olmert's exit interpreting it as a huge setback to the so-called peace process. Even the Palestinian leadership has expressed concerns calling it a disaster for the Palestine-Israel negotiations. This may not exactly be the right way of looking at Israel and the power shift in Tel Aviv.

For one, under Olmert Israel has given away little or nothing to the Palestinians even after several rounds of exasperating negotiations and talks.

For two, no matter who is in charge in Tel Aviv, Israel's policy towards the Palestinians as well as the rest of the world is predetermined and does NOT change with the change of leadership. So whoever takes over from Olmert, let's hope common sense prevails in Israel and it embraces peace.

More news from