By reducing the upcoming "peace conference" to a setup for a mere "declaration of intent", Olmert gains survival of his government for a few more months, but guarantees the failure of the conference and his own failure as a peace maker. With this reduce role for the conference, Saudi Arabia will not bother, nor will any Arab country other than, perhaps, Egypt and Jordan who are on US Welfare. But these countries have been going to such meetings for years and their presence will bring no added value. Olmert fears that Lieberman and Shas will leave the coalition if reasonable concessions are made. I am not sure Shas will do it (since Rabbi Ovadia is a relative moderate), but suppose this is so. In the present Knesset, the right wing PLUS Haredim only have 50 seats. The other 70 are held by the center-left (60 seats) and Arab parties (10). One cannot expect the rightwingers to be weaker for many years to come. So what is Olmert afraid of? He has the Knesset`s Jewish majority, and an even bigger overall majority. Olmert apparently fears that he might be forced by Barak into early elections and then lose the prime-ministership. Could be, although not certainly. If Olmert brings home real peace prospects, he might win or Barak will win and he will become second in command. He will have a good historical citation, and might even return to the post next time. If Olmert is not capable of bold moves, he is not worthy of his job. Let him just go away.
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Belgian PM: Threat remains serious, but not as imminent as previously feared (Reuters)
from the article: Best be pessimistic