Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Olmert Will Step Down as Israeli PM in September

It's about bloody time.

Ehud Olmert announced he would be stepping down as Israel's Prime Minister on September 17th. On that date, Olmert's Kadima Party will choose a new leader who will automatically become Prime Minister. Foreign Affairs Minister Tzipi Livni is the odds on favorite to succeed Olmert. If she prevails, Livni would become Israel's second female Prime Minister. Golda Meir was the first serving between 1969 to 1973. However, Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz is also a likely contender.

Regardless of who succeeds him, Olmert will probably go down as the worst Prime Minister in Israeli history. Aside from resigning because of a corruption investigation, he will always be associated for his mismanagement of the 2006 War between Israel and Hezbollah which was sparked when Hezbollah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers. Israelis were recently reminded of Olmert's mismanagement when Israel released several notorious Palestinian prisoners including child killer Samir Kuntar in exchange for the coffins holding the remains of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev.

It will be interesting to see how long Kadima's partnership with the Labor Party lasts once Olmert's successor is chosen. Everything is in the hands of Labor leader and former Prime Minister Ehud Barak. However, according to an Angus-Reid poll, Likud Party leader and former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is the preferred choice of Israelis to become their new head of government. Netanyahu holds an 8 point lead over Livni and a 22 point lead over Barak. (

Needless to say, I don't Barak will be in any hurry to bring down the government. On the other hand, by not bringing down the government it could give an opportunity for Olmert's successor to shine. Still, I think Barak will take a wait and see approach through 2008.

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