Like an Unaccompanied New Driver

The affair of the last two days of the war is enough to determine that the prime minister engaged in deception.

They say Ehud Olmert is actually the victim of an arrogant chief of staff and a negligent army. They say a properly-run country cannot change prime ministers like socks and hold Knesset elections every year. They say haste makes waste and that the guillotine can wait. They say that if Ehud Olmert resigns, he is liable to be replaced by a leader who has not been through a single war. They say early elections will bring Benjamin Netanyahu back into power. And Olmert himself says that he does not have to resign, because resignation "is a demonstration of irresponsibility."

Had attorney Ehud Olmert been found guilty of causing the death of passengers who were waiting at a traffic light, he would have sat in prison and been barred from getting behind the wheel for many years. But after his decisions caused the deaths of more than 150 Israeli civilians and soldiers, and hundreds of Lebanese civilians, Olmert continues to sit in the Prime Minister's Office and to hold the reins of government. Had Olmert been accused of embezzling public funds to benefit his former law partner, he would have been sent to prison and lost his license to practice law, but after the serious conclusions of the Winograd Committee, which he himself appointed, Olmert continues to sit in the Prime Minister's Office and declares that he would do the same thing today.

There was no need to bother Judge Winograd and his four honorable colleagues to rule that Olmert conducted an entire country like an unaccompanied new driver. The affair of the last two days of the war is enough to determine that the prime minister engaged in deception. Olmert insists that the operation in which 33 soldiers were killed brought about major changes in Israel's favor in the wording of UN Security Council Resolution 1701. And thus the prime minister said to the members of the committee: "I said to myself: 'What will happen if in another six, seven, eight hours we have to accept the decision of the Security Council, to the effect that it rejects any obligation for all the things for which we have struggled until now? How will we tolerate that? How will the State of Israel justify that?"

How, really? How can a ground operation change a decision that was made 35 minutes prior to it? John Bolton, who headed the U.S. delegation at the UN and conducted the negotiations preceding the formulation of Resolution 1701, declared that the last-minute ground operation had absolutely no effect on its final version.

Which "things for which we have struggled" did we get from the UN on August 11 that we could not have received from the Rome Conference on July 26? The conference, which was attended by the foreign ministers of the U.S., Canada, Europe and the Arab countries, proposed a cease-fire and the positioning of a multinational force to assist Lebanese forces, to be deployed in the country's south to disarm Hezbollah. Olmert rejected the proposal out of hand. The idea of deploying an international force was reiterated about three days later, proposed by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who traveled back and forth between Jerusalem and Beirut. Her deal included an exchange of prisoners and captives, as well as transferring the Shaba Farms to Lebanon, a gesture that was meant to strengthen the position of Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora. Olmert preferred to continue the war "until all the goals are achieved."

They say that in spite of the series of failures, we have to learn from the Americans, who do not switch leaders in midstream. Even if they know that this leader deceived them when he invaded Iraq with the false claim that Saddam Hussein was concealing weapons of mass destruction, they are not considering expelling him from the White House even an hour ahead of time.

So what? In the U.S. it is also impossible for a handful of politicians who joined forces to present a candidate for the presidency without an orderly and open democratic process. Nor do they impeach a president there because of lies that are costing the lives of thousands of human beings. The Americans begin impeachment proceedings only when the president lies concerning existential issues, such as wiretapping his rival's election headquarters, or the nature of his sexual relations with a female intern in the adjacent office.