Text size

Ehud Olmert may decide to accept the French proposal for a cease-fire and unconditional surrender to Hezbollah. That is his privilege. Olmert is a prime minister whom journalists invented, journalists protected, and whose rule journalists preserved. Now the journalists are saying run away. That's legitimate. Unwise, but legitimate.

However, one thing should be clear: If Olmert runs away now from the war he initiated, he will not be able to remain prime minister for even one more day. Chutzpah has its limits. You cannot lead an entire nation to war promising victory, produce humiliating defeat and remain in power. You cannot bury 120 Israelis in cemeteries, keep a million Israelis in shelters for a month, wear down deterrent power, bring the next war very close, and then say - oops, I made a mistake. That was not the intention. Pass me a cigar, please.

There is no mistake Ehud Olmert did not make this past month. He went to war hastily, without properly gauging the outcome. He blindly followed the military without asking the necessary questions. He mistakenly gambled on air operations, was strangely late with the ground operation, and failed to implement the army's original plan, much more daring and sophisticated than that which was implemented. And after arrogantly and hastily bursting into war, Olmert managed it hesitantly, unfocused and limp. He neglected the home front and abandoned the residents of the north. He also failed shamefully on the diplomatic front.

Still, if Olmert had come to his senses as Golda Meir did during the Yom Kippur War, if he had become a leader, established a war cabinet and called the nation to a supreme effort that would change the face of the battle, a penetrating discussion of his failures could be postponed. But in blinking first over the past 24 hours, he has become an incorrigible political personality. Therefore, the day Nasrallah comes out of his bunker and declares victory to the whole world, Olmert must not be in the prime minister's office. Post-war battered and bleeding Israel needs a new start and a new leader. It needs a real prime minister.