Olmert under fire over cease-fire

MKs from both Right and Left attack PM's acceptance of UN resolution.

Olmert pissed off 298 (photo credit: AP [file])
Olmert pissed off 298
(photo credit: AP [file])
The weekend's news about expanded operations in Lebanon and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's acceptance of a United Nations resolution calling for a cease-fire gave politicians on both the Right and the Left reasons to attack the government. MKs on the Right said Israel would regret accepting the cease-fire, those on the Left said it was wrong to send so many troops deep into Lebanon and politicians from across the spectrum said the government had mismanaged the war.
MK Zvi Hendel (NU-NRP) said the opposition would resume efforts to topple the prime minister, ending a self-imposed hiatus on attacking the government during the war. He said inquiries would be made into Olmert's handling of the war and that his mistakes would be exposed. "Olmert is not fit to stay in power, he won't last one day longer," Hendel said. "The ministers should listen to [Hizbullah leader Hassan] Nasrallah's satisfaction with the cease-fire to understand how bad it is for Israel." MK Silvan Shalom (Likud) said the cease-fire was one of the worst Israel had ever been offered. He said Israel would not achieve any of its goals, including returning its kidnapped soldiers and the disarming of Hizbullah, while issues like the return of Mount Dov (Shaba Farms) and the release of Lebanese terrorists from jail had been put on the agenda. "If we would have known that this would be of the result of the war no one would have supported it," Shalom told The Jerusalem Post. "Just last month Olmert called UNIFIL worthless pensioners and now they are being entrusted with protecting our country." Shalom said he was also not happy with the news about the IDF reaching the Litani River because the IDF should have entered deep into Lebanon a long time ago. On the Left, Meretz leader Yossi Beilin said that the expansion of operations in Lebanon was a "prize for Hizbullah" that would entail weeks of arduous warfare and heavy casualties. Meretz and Peace Now began demonstrating against the war on Thursday and a columnist in the left-leaning Ha'aretz joined Hendel in calling for Olmert to quit in a column under the headline, "Olmert must go." "If Olmert runs away now from the war he initiated, he will not be able to remain prime minister for even one more day," wrote Ari Shavit. "Chutzpah has its limits. You cannot lead an entire nation to war promising victory, produce humiliating defeat and remain in power. You cannot bury 120 Israelis in cemeteries, keep a million Israelis in shelters for a month, wear down deterrent power, bring the next war very close and then say - 'Oops, I made a mistake. That was not the intention. Pass me a cigar, please.'" A Dialog poll published in Ha'aretz found that just one in five Israelis believed that if the war ended now, it could be considered a victory, while 30 percent said Israel was losing the war and 44% said neither side would emerge a winner. A Dahaf Institute poll in Yediot Aharonot found, however, that only 17% of Israelis, including just 13% of Israeli Jews believed that Israel would lose the war, while 37% of Israelis and 40% of Israeli Jews believed Israel would win. The poll reported that 66% of Israelis and 73% of Israeli Jews approved of Olmert's management of the war. Olmert also encountered problems inside his own party over the weekend when Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni expressed disappointment with his decision to prevent her from attending the Security Council deliberations on the cease-fire resolution in New York. The move was seen as revenge against Livni for opposing military operations and for voting against a decision to bomb Hizbullah's headquarters in Beirut at the start of the war. In an unflattering profile in the weekend magazine of Yediot Aharonot, Foreign Ministry staffers criticized Livni for taking a backseat role during the war and refusing to give interviews to the foreign press. "My relationship with the prime minister is correct," Livni told Channel 1 on Saturday night. "I think I should have gone to New York but the prime minister thought differently, so I did my work from here." Sheera Claire Frenkel and AP contributed to this report.