Five comments on the situation
Sly and charismatic, a victim of his own greed that embroiled him in alleged criminal dealings, Olmert was, all in all, not too bad a prime minister.
1. The most accurate description of the government Benjamin Netanyahu is to present today is from a comment by former minister Aharon Uzan, who spoke 27 years ago about the collapsing Begin government: "This is not a government, it's shaksukha" - a haphazard dish mixing eggs and leftovers.
2. When Ehud Olmert's biography is written, it might be entitled: "The Rise and Fall of an Accidental Prime Minister." He was an MK, he was a minister, he reached the zenith of his career as mayor of Jerusalem.
To the Jews of America, Olmert was more than a prime minister. On his frequent visits there, millionaires rolled out the red carpet for him, housed him in opulent apartments, flew him in private planes. Olmert did not get his greedy character from his modest father, but from the pampering he was given in Jerusalem.
His basic ambition was to be "connected," but I never heard him say he aspired to be prime minister. When Sharon said Olmert would be acting prime minister, to compensate him for a portfolio withheld, Olmert probably did not imagine that it would catapult him so quickly to the premiership.
Sly and charismatic, a victim of his own greed that embroiled him in alleged criminal dealings, Olmert was, all in all, not too bad a prime minister. He had a good relationship with the public, a close relationship with the U.S. administration and had pledged to continue Sharon's path.
His main problem was that he was not Sharon. He made a mistake when he appointed Amir Peretz defense minister and the corrupt Abraham Hirchson as finance minister. He erred when he was enticed by then-air force commander Dan Halutz to embark on the Second Lebanon War.
But in contrast, he was also the man who approved the strike on the Syrian reactor and the missile convoy from Sudan, according to foreign media reports. He initiated Turkish-mediated talks with Syrian President Bashar Assad and negotiated with the Palestinians based on the principles of the two-state solution.
He could have earned greater credit if he had also been enticed into bringing back kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit at the price Hamas demanded.
His appetite for the good life is what did him in. I hope the government that is presented today will not make us miss him.
3. One does not have to be a scientist to realize that Ehud Barak and Bibi Netanyahu have the same DNA. They are both full of themselves, neither of them gives a flying you-know-what about their parties. Barak is not afraid of Peretz and Bibi is not afraid of Silvan Shalom.
Netanyahu has not changed ideologically; don't expect any surprises from him like from Menachem Begin, when he brought peace with Egypt and even recognized at Camp David "the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people."
As far as Barak goes, he is focused on his own genius, but is no politician. His conduct toward his fellow party members is arrogant, despite the back-slapping style from his days in the elite Sayeret Matkal army unit. The idea of his wife's establishing a consulting firm to connect clients to between 800 and 900 senior people in Israel (mostly due to Barak's connections) shows the flaw in his personality, as if he can do anything he feels like doing.
His only good quality is that most of the public wants him as defense minister. But anyone who claims that Labor will be the tail that wags the dog is wrong. With an overwhelming majority given Yisrael Beiteinu's Avigdor Lieberman and Bibi, and without dismantling settlements, the handwriting is on the wall for a break-in-the-making with the Obama administration.
4. Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni really does not believe in a different sort of politics, without wheeling and dealing. It is not by chance that her party came out of the elections the bigger one. Those who think she is innocent and immature are wrong.
She knows exactly where all the cheating is going on, and she has decided to change the system of take-and-take.
There are many who say that she made a mistake by not giving in to Shas' extortion and instead going to elections. That is not the case. In the elections she proved that Labor is fading, and sooner or later Barak will go back to tending to his private affairs.
In not giving in to Netanyahu's enticement that she would be his foreign minister, she placed herself and Kadima on the map. Now she must conduct herself as an alternative to the prime minister and lambaste the Bibi-Barak-Lieberman government as a fighting opposition leader. In any case, the Bibi government, with its dozens of ministers and deputies, will not last its whole term.
5. There is an old joke about a sarcophagus discovered by archaeologists in a pyramid. Upon opening it, to their surprise, the decreased begins to speak. The first question: "Is Shimon Peres still foreign minister?"
A strange question? Not so much.
The fact is, Peres is getting ready to embark on a tour to convince the world that the new government wants to advance the diplomatic process with the Palestinians. And that is on the condition that when his term as president is over, he will run for prime minister.