Olmert receives endorsement of extreme left leaders

Avraham Burg, Shulamit Aloni and Yariv Oppenheimer all want Olmert to remain in power after Winograd report's publication.

olmert smile 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
olmert smile 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert received a boost from the far left of the political map Tuesday when former Knesset speaker Avraham Burg, former Meretz leader Shulamit Aloni and Peace Now director-general Yariv Oppenheimer said he should be allowed to remain in power after the Winograd Report's publication. Burg retired from politics in 2004 and has since made headlines by adopting increasingly extremist positions. He most recently made news six months ago when he obtained a French passport and wrote a book comparing Israel to Nazi Germany and suggesting that Israel should no longer be a Jewish state. In an article on the web site Scoop.co.il, Burg wrote that Olmert was the best prime minister Israel has had in the past 20 years. The article was picked up by the Kadima activist web site Yallakadima.co.il. "I didn't vote for Kadima and I apparently won't any time in the future, but I still consider Olmert the best prime minister we have had in the past 20 years," Burg wrote. "He is certainly better than all the other contenders to the throne." Asked by The Jerusalem Post whether he considered Olmert better than former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, Burg declined to make such a comparison, but said he would even expand his statement to the last 30 years. "I won't fit into the grid you want me to," Burg said. "I am very careful with how I choose my words." Burg said his positive opinion of Olmert came from the way the government worked and the professional way decisions were made under his leadership. He said his opinion was unconnected to Olmert's handling of the Second Lebanon War, which, he said, needed to be examined separately. In an interview with Army Radio, Burg said that Israel had deteriorated into a country obsessed with investigations. He compared Israel to reality television shows in that politicians can be removed on a whim. "The verdict has to be given in polling stations and not in the shuk," Burg said. Asked whom he would vote for in the next election, Burg said he would select whichever party leader would bring the most hope of diplomatic progress, whether it would be Olmert, Meretz leadership candidate Haim Oron, Hadash head Mohammed Barakei or even Israel Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman. Aloni endorsed Olmert in an interview with Yediot Aharonot. She blamed the problems of the war on the IDF and said that due to his lack of military experience, Olmert could not have been expected to contradict the generals. "Under the current conditions, I would prefer that Olmert remain," Aloni said. "I have no trust in [Labor chairman Ehud] Barak. It could be that [Barak] is a wonderful pianist and he knows how to take apart and put back together watches, but I stopped liking him long ago. I would vote for Olmert." Oppenheimer sent a letter to members of Labor's executive committee and the party's branch heads calling upon Barak to keep Labor in the government in order to advance the peace process. Oppenheimer will host a rally with the same message on Sunday at Labor headquarters. "Olmert's departure under the current circumstances would bring about new elections and paralyze the political system for six months to a year," Oppenheimer wrote. "This would undermine stability and end all the processes the government has began over the past two years, including Annapolis. Labor must remain in the government out of national responsibility."