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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Interim Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmandinjad were among those chosen by Time magazine as the 100 most influential people in the world. The three were chosen in the category Leaders & Revolutionaries.
According to Time, Olmert is a "dealmaker and an inside man. His Israel is a modern, democratic society, not a biblical re-enactment. Olmert was Sharon's consigliere on the decision to leave Gaza. He calculated that Israel couldn't rule the Palestinians there and remain a democracy; he had no trouble deciding which was more important."
"Olmert," reported the magazine, "helped Sharon see the arithmetic and the political equation. It was a gutsy thing for a lifelong Likudnik to do, and it won Olmert enough respect to get him nominated and elected."
The Israeli prime minister, according to the magazine, also "plans to finish the security barrier, bring Israeli settlers into a few blocks and leave the rest of the West Bank to the Palestinians. It's a fraught policy. The settlers and the Arabs will come to it kicking and screaming, if at all."
Though chosen in the prestigious list, Time adopted a critical stance against Haniyeh. "While Haniyeh has promised since his election in January to clean up corruption, establish law and order, and revive the Palestinian economy, nowhere in his statements is there a place for peace with Israel. Which means that even the illusion of peacemaking is over. You cannot make peace with a group that rejects it as a principle and legitimizes terrorism. And that is what Hamas demonstrated on April 17 when its officials called the fatal bombing of a falafel stand in Tel Aviv an "act of self-defense."
According to the magazine, "If Haniyeh's Hamas wants to act like an opposition group even when it has responsibility for governing, it will merely isolate itself and damage the Palestinian cause."
Iranian President Ahmandinejad, wrote Time, is a "dark genius at mobilizing Iranian public opinion."
"In the first year of his presidency, he has risen out of obscurity to become one of the most troublesome and noteworthy leaders in the world. His uncompromising stand on his country's right to enrich uranium has increased the threat of further turmoil in the Middle East and edged the US and Iran closer to a military confrontation than ever before in recent times," the magazine said.
According to the magazine, "His campaign slogan, 'We can do it,' implied fighting corruption, not building the Bomb."
However, Ahmandinejad "has formulated a message that the majority of Iranians agree with: it's time for Iran to be strong again, and no time is better than now. He has made nuclear power an issue of national pride, and so far, his position that the US "can't do a thing" is proving true. It's a dangerous gamble, though, because it may force America to flex its military muscle to prove him wrong."