The delay in releasing the Winograd Committee's report is expected to extend Ehud Olmert's political life and shorten that of his party. Kadima had presumed/hoped to come through the events of the war, or Olmert's seemingly criminal events - whichever comes first - just as it got through Ariel Sharon's stroke. Before we can say "Jack Robinson," the party will have rented the Israel Trade Fairs and Convention Center and, one day in October, or November at the latest, chosen a new prime minister through instant primaries.
Kadima, led by Tzipi Livni, Shaul Mofaz or Meir Sheetrit, would connect to the ultimate respirator of the right-wing parties - the Labor Party under Ehud Barak. In the time that would remain between then and the date established by law for the next elections, the new partners would try to rebuild the ratings ruins left by the Olmert-Peretz era.
The postponement of the final report's release disrupts Kadima's plans. The party will be stuck for months with the electoral burden at their head, refusing to convene the council in order to advance preparations for the primaries. Every day that goes by scares away more voters. Unless something dramatic happens, the day is not long off when the polls will show single-figure support for a bunch whose ideology is top secret. Until the Winograd Committee completes the process of hearings for those who will receive warnings, it will be the spring of 2008. Until the Elections Committee gets organized, the 17th Knesset will have crossed its mid-point and the parties will begin gearing up for early elections for the 18th Knesset, sometime next fall.
Labor and Likud are already casting hungry eyes at the 29 seats belonging to Kadima members, who promised "to follow in Sharon's footsteps" and will likely follow in Yosef Lapid's footsteps. There are some, Gideon Sa'ar for instance, who have begun to talk about the makeup of the next coalition. That Knesset member said in a private conversation that he has no doubt the next government will be a Likud-Labor unity government. He says that Benjamin Netanyahu concedes that he failed to grasp, after the trauma of Yitzhak Rabin's assassination, that the public wanted unity and instead got a mischief-making prime minister. Netanyahu learned from Sharon's experience, that bringing Labor into the government is a charm for a long life and the price is certainly reasonable. Shimon Peres did not hamper Sharon in destroying the Palestinian Authority. Barak does not hamper Olmert in tossing crumbs to Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas).
According to all the polls, Labor under Barak's leadership is two dozen seats shy of reprising Rabin's success of forming a government with Meretz and without Likud. But even if the miracle does happen and he manages to put together a Labor-left government, it's doubtful Barak will rush to embrace Yossi Beilin. His close confidants say that he too learned a lesson from his refusal to form a unity government with Sharon after the failed Camp David summit, which led to the second intifada.
Barring a change in the balance of power between the two major blocs, right-religious versus Labor-left, it will be easier for Netanyahu to form an obstructive bloc and get from Peres the mandate to form the 32nd government. As the time for elections nears, Netanyahu and his people will increasingly have praise for the unity of the people, and accompany the smears against Barak with leaks regarding political talks with him. Even if nothing comes of it, Bibi only stands to gain; who can grant him more legitimacy than his heroic commander from Sayeret Matkal, the general staff's elite special-operations force?
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now