Feature

What Ehud Olmert's resignation means for Israel

Can the next government recover from 'the year of scandal'?

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has finally succumbed to pressure over corruption allegations, and announced his resignation, said The Jerusalem Post in an editorial. Now law enforcement authorities must follow up with an indictment or be accused of “hounding” an elected leader out of office. Olmert will keep fighting to clear his name, but he did the right thing by putting “the good of the state” first.

“Now comes the hard work of restoring sanity to Israeli politics,” said Yossi Klein Halevi in The New Republic’s The Plank blog. Olmert—who may have subsidized family trips with a Holocaust museum’s money—was “the embodiment” of a “year of scandal” in Israel. Let’s hope the next government can move on to more serious matters, such as restoring “Israeli deterrence by dealing with the Iranian crisis.”

Iran could figure prominently in picking Olmert’s successor, said Alex Ely in Foreign Policy’s Passport blog. One of two likely candidates for the Kadima Party’s choice in a September primary is “hawkish” Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz, who has said a strike on Iran is “unavoidable” if Iran doesn’t abandon its nuclear program. But Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is more popular, and a stronger bet against likely Likud Party candidate Benjamin Netanyahu.

Mofaz is pitching himself as a “safer pair of hands,” said The Economist in an analysis, and a skeptic on peace with the Palestinians. Livni is running “as Mrs. Clean, who might conceivably strike a deal with the Palestinians.” But “no matter who grasps Kadima’s helm,” the hawkish Netanyahu will probably come out on top in a general election next spring.

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