View Full Version : Olmert Clings On To Power

07-16-2008, 08:46 AM
Olmert clings on to power


Paul Woodward, Online Correspondent
Last Updated: July 15. 2008 12:33PM UAE / July 15. 2008 8:33AM GMT

"Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's government survived a no-confidence vote in parliament on Monday but legislators from his Labour Party coalition partner dealt him a moral blow by voting against him," Reuters reported.

"Under Israeli law, the government must be dissolved if 61 legislators vote in favor of a no-confidence motion. The motion against Olmert was defeated by 47 votes to 42."

AFP said: "Olmert was under fire from the media on Sunday over fresh corruption allegations, with commentators saying the embattled premier's political career was all but over.

"'Ehud Olmert is finished. Politicians, the leaders he will meet today in Paris, the prosecutor and the police, all of them know this. The only one who wants to ignore it is Olmert,' wrote Nahum Barnea, a columnist for the mass-selling Yediot Aharonot newspaper.

"Police suspect that on at least 12 occasions when Olmert was Jerusalem mayor or trade and industry minister he submitted multiple invoices to different organisations for the same trip, pocketing about 110,000 dollars (60,000 euros) in reimbursements, Yediot Aharonot reported."

Describing Mr Olmert's current condition, Akiva Eldar wrote in Haaretz: "In medical terms his condition would be described as 'paralysis.' In legal terms, when a political leader is suffering from such a serious paralysis, it is called 'incapacity.' The required solution is for him to resign, or at least, to take leave until the investigation and legal proceedings are over.

"Lacking a clear decision by the attorney general and amid pressure from his coalition partners, Olmert continues to treat the country's most fundamental interests as his own. He harnesses the tools of government to the effort to save his skin. Today an investigation, tomorrow a trip abroad. Today consultations with attorneys, tomorrow a group photograph with world leaders. He will fight for his good name until the last drop of the country's good name."

In an editorial, Haaretz said: "The impending end of the Ehud Olmert era is now unavoidable. Across the political spectrum, and even within Olmert's Kadima Party, the consensus is that public disgust over the revelations about his conduct should be translated into a thorough cleaning of the political stables. If it is possible to find a positive side to the Olmert scandals, it is the hope that they will serve as a point of departure for preventing future embarrassments at the highest levels of the Israeli government...

"Olmert has dealt public confidence in state institutions a double blow: via his behaviour, which has spurred half a dozen criminal investigations, and via his attacks on the police, prosecution and attorney general, whom he accused of plotting to pursue him until he is ousted. These attacks are no less worthy of condemnation than the alleged offenses whose investigation sparked them.

"The filtering mechanisms of Israeli politics failed in Olmert's case, and this is not the first time. The holes in the sieve were too large. For this cloud to have a silver lining, it is necessary to learn the Olmert lesson and make sure that such a case never recurs."

Yediot Aharonot columnist, Nahum Barnea proposed that the six premiership candidates who could replace Mr Olmert - Tzipi Livni, Meir Sheetrit, Shaul Mofaz, Avi Dichter, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Ehud Barak - should each be required to submit a detailed declarations of all their businesses, earnings, and accounts to a special investigator. "We won't have enough time to look into everything, but we shall hold a preliminary probe ahead of the elections, not after them. At least two of them, three perhaps, will have to carefully think whether they still want to be candidates."

Call for a WMD-free Middle East
"More than 40 nations, including Israel and Arab states, agreed today to work for a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East," the Los Angeles Times reported.

"A final declaration from a summit launching the Union for the Mediterranean says the members will 'pursue a mutually and effectively verifiable Middle East Zone free of weapons of mass destruction.'

"That includes nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, as well as their delivery systems, the statement says. The countries will 'consider practical steps to prevent the proliferation' of such weapons, it says."

The diplomatic move represents a reversal among European nations who in September 2007, at the general conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency, were unwilling to support an Egyptian initiative calling for a Middle East nuclear-free zone.

At that time, Associated Press reported: "European nations at past general conferences of the International Atomic Energy Agency have voted in favor of establishing a zone free of such arms. But at last month's session, 25 of the 27 EU nations abstained on the resolution addressing the issue and introduced by Egypt, as did other countries hoping to join the union. In all, 47 nations abstained.

"Israel and the United States voted against the proposal, as they have at past sessions, while 53 countries - Muslim states and their supporters from the developing world - backed it."

In an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel this week, Mohammed Nahavandian, an adviser to Iran's president, expressed his optimism about Iran's upcoming meeting with the European Union negotiator Javier Solano. "The Islamic Republic wants to master nuclear enrichment to use it for civil purposes. That is our right. Now we have this technology and so we have reached our goal. Now is a good time to negotiate out of a position of strength," Mr Nahavandian said.

Withdrawal of American troops from Iraq will mean more can be sent to Afghanistan

The leader of the Unified Iraqi Coalition, Sami Al-Askari, was interviewed by Asharq Al-Awsat. "Al-Askari stressed that Iraqi forces will take over the security tasks in all Iraqi governorates by the end of this year. He added that the multinational forces will have withdrawn outside the Iraqi cities by the middle of 2009, and by the end of 2010, all the multinational forces will have withdrawn. He said that the only exception will be the air cover, which these forces will continue to assume for the Iraqi forces until the latter are able to take charge of the security of the airspace in 2011."

In a commentary for The New York Times, US presidential candidate, Barack Obama, wrote: "We can safely redeploy our combat brigades at a pace that would remove them in 16 months. That would be the summer of 2010 - two years from now, and more than seven years after the war began. After this redeployment, a residual force in Iraq would perform limited missions: going after any remnants of al Qa'eda in Mesopotamia, protecting American service members and, so long as the Iraqis make political progress, training Iraqi security forces. That would not be a precipitous withdrawal.

"In carrying out this strategy, we would inevitably need to make tactical adjustments. As I have often said, I would consult with commanders on the ground and the Iraqi government to ensure that our troops were redeployed safely, and our interests protected. We would move them from secure areas first and volatile areas later. We would pursue a diplomatic offensive with every nation in the region on behalf of Iraq's stability, and commit $2 billion to a new international effort to support Iraq's refugees.

"Ending the war is essential to meeting our broader strategic goals, starting in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where the Taliban is resurgent and al Qa'eda has a safe haven. Iraq is not the central front in the war on terrorism, and it never has been. As Adm Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently pointed out, we won't have sufficient resources to finish the job in Afghanistan until we reduce our commitment to Iraq."

The New York Times said: "As the Bush administration considers withdrawing additional combat troops from Iraq in September, the military needs in Afghanistan are coming into sharper focus. Mr Obama and other Democrats have said the balance of troops in the two war zones should be adjusted. At the same time, a downturn in Iraqi violence has complicated their arguments that a surge of American troops was flawed.

"'I continue to believe that we're under-resourced in Afghanistan,' Mr Obama said on Sunday, speaking to reporters after addressing a Latino group [in San Diego, California]. 'That is the real centre for terrorist activity that we have to deal with and deal with aggressively.'

"Later this summer, at a date that is not being disclosed for security reasons, Mr Obama said he would be joined on a trip to Iraq, and possibly Afghanistan, by Senators Chuck Hagel, Republican of Nebraska, and Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island. All three senators share critical views of the administration's Iraq policy."

The Washington Post reported: "Congress has quietly used fiscal 2008 legislation on military construction to signal that it plans on a long-term military presence in Afghanistan.

"In the recently approved supplemental funding bill for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, legislators approved construction of a $62 million ammunition storage facility at Afghanistan's Bagram Air Base, where 12 planned 'igloos' will support Army and Air Force needs...

"In another sign that US troops will be there a long time, the Army requested, and Congress provided, $41 million for a 30-megawatt power plant at Bagram. It is capable of generating enough electricity for a town of more than 20,000 homes."

The New York Times looked at the Taliban's seizure of a marble quarry in Pakistan's tribal areas and how this fitted into the economic and political underpinnings that have given the Pashtun movement its strength.

"The seizure of the quarry is a measure of how in recent months, as the Pakistani military has pulled back under a series of peace deals, the Pakistani Taliban have extended their reach through more of the rugged territory in northern Pakistan known as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, or Fata.

"Today the Taliban not only settle disputes in their consolidated domain but they also levy taxes, smuggle drugs and other contraband, and impose their own brand of rough justice, complete with courts and prisons.

"From the security of this border region, they deploy their fighters and suicide bombers in two directions: against Nato and American forces over the border in southern Afghanistan, and against Pakistani forces - police, army and intelligence officials - in major Pakistani cities."