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Proliferation Press

Monday, November 27, 2006

News Update and Opinion: Low Approval Ratings Undermine Olmert's Plea for Peace

(Updated version of a previous CampusProgress.org posting)

News Update

Today's NYTimes leads with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's plea for peace between Israel and the Palestinian territories.

The NYTimes does not dwell on Olmert's low popularity within Israel or his Kadima party's dwindling support. As the reported by the International Herald Tribune, a recent poll put Olmert's approval rating at an anemic 20 percent.

And Reuters reported three days ago on a recent newspaper poll putting the Kadima party Olmert's leads behind Benjamin Netanyahu's more hard-line Likud party.

Olmert's unpopularity has come in large part from the botched Israeli military incursion into Lebanon he green lighted earlier this year. (Link to Olmert's political history and role in the Lebanon invasion)

Perhaps Olmert is giving peace a chance to have gain a chance at the polls.

But even if this cynical reading of Olmert's proposal is unfounded (and it probably is), the question remains: is Olmert is any position to conclude a high-stakes peace agreement with Palestine?


Olmert may just become one of the most tragic leaders of current Israeli history.

Never meant to be Prime Minister (that was supposed to be the still-comatose Ariel Sharron), Olmert headed up the Lebanon invasion to both improve Israeli security and increase his standing on military matters.

The plan: repeal the threat of missiles on Israel, and then take that hawkish capital to make peace in Israel. A reasonable but risky plan.

Had Sharon been able to lead Kadima, this appearance concern would have not existed.

But the plan didn't turn out: the invasion failed. Now Olmert is trying to forge support for the Kadima party by suing for peace, from an extremely weakened position.

Perhaps the voters who rallied to support Sharon last summer will see that it's time for a real peace process and that Netanyahu does not offer a better course. But it seems likely that Netanyahu will succeed in making this last-ditch attempt for political survival look just like that-- and not a principled or workable plan towards peace.


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