Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Olmert Accepts Blame For Operation's 'Failings'

That's the title of the Washington Post article this morning:

"There have been failings and shortcomings," Olmert, with deep circles under his eyes and a haggard look on his face, told a special session of the Israeli parliament. "We need to examine ourselves in all aspects and all areas. We will not sweep anything under the table, we will not hide anything. We must ensure that next time things will be done better."
Only one thing missing--where does Olmert accept blame? Much later in the article, it is clear that,to his credit, Olmert does in fact accept full responsibility for Israel's failure against Hezbollah:

"The responsibility for this operation lies with me," the prime minister said during his address before the Knesset, the Israeli parliament. "I am not asking to share this responsibility with anyone whatsoever.
Still it is disheartening to hear Olmert say "we must ensure that next time things will be done better," which many Israelis will blame on Israel's failure to deal Hezbollah a decisive blow:

The anguish, disappointment and confusion are widespread among soldiers who believe their leadership sent them to war unprepared, among residents of northern Israel who say their government abandoned its most vulnerable citizens, and among a public that believes its prime minister has left them open to future attack by agreeing to a cease-fire many think is not permanent. (emphasis added)
Olmert has even lost the backing of the media in Israel which has not hesitated to publish countless negative interviews with civlians matched by equally critical evaluations by the Israeli media itself.

In the end, he is reduced to claiming that the IDF "has struck a major blow to this murderous organization," while at the same time admitting that "the extent is not known."

At least Olmert has stopped trumpeting his intent to follow the Convergence Plan--and for good reason, according to the Jerusalem Post:

A month and a half ago, the IDF and police were preparing to dismantle three settler outposts, a dress rehearsal for Olmert's master-plan, realignment. Few believe that in the current public climate, especially since the settlers' share in the war's death-toll has been so high, Olmert can go ahead with what was the main plank of his electoral platform.

Painful retreats and peace-plans are only possible under popular prime ministers - Menachem Begin with the Egyptian treaty, Yitzhak Rabin at Oslo and Ariel Sharon and his disengagement. A discredited prime minister going ahead with such a controversial plan, whatever its merits, is a recipe for chaos and even civil war. And without realignment, the entire justification for Olmert's premiership will have dissolved. Less than six months since the election and once this war is over, Olmert's sole aim will be to survive as PM. The moment that happens to a prime minister, it's a sure sign that the countdown to his departure has begun.
Israel was supposed to have learned from the Yom Kippur War.
Now she is supposed to learn from her failure in this war against Hezbollah.
How many such opportunities can Israel safely endure?

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