New Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert desperate to become Sharon’s substitute for Bush

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is visiting the USA to have official meetings with President George W. Bush and other figures of the US administration. This is Mr. Olmert’s first visit to the States as the prime minister of Israel: observers are trying to see which style of communication the Israeli minister is going to use with his American colleagues.

It is an open secret that Ariel Sharon was quite a willful partner of Washington. It infuriated Washington on many occasions, although Sharon could count on Bush’s support in major international issues. However, Ehud Olmert is not Ariel Sharon. It will be a lot more difficult for Olmert to win the support of the USA if he does not express his compliance to Washington’s wishes.

One has to acknowledge that it is not going to be easy for Mr. Olmert to listen to George W. Bush’s recommendations and requests. In particular, the US administration needs to have a precise answer to the question whether Ehud Olmert is going to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas or not. Abbas did have a meeting with Israeli Foreign Affairs Minister Tzipi Livni on the threshold of Olmert’s visit to Washington. However, it is still unknown whether Israeli and Palestinian leaders are going to meet for talks in the long run.

Olmert’s remarks regarding the meeting with Abbas were rather contradictory. The prime minister once said that he would not speak to Palestine’s leader who lost his power after Hamas’ victory in the elections. He then said that a meeting was quite possible. The final decision on the meeting between Abbas and Olmert now solely depends on the position of the US administration.

Ehud Olmert needs the support of the States if he is going to continue the policy of single-handed alienation with Palestine. Olmert will have to face massive riots in Israel during the first stage of this policy when Israel withdraws a part of Jewish settlements from the West Bank of Jordan. The movement of Jewish settlers that appeared after the withdrawal from Gaza Strip has taken the form of an organized political force that can ruin the career of Olmert and other Israeli politicians. Even if Ehud Olmert handles the anger of Jewish settlers and their followers, he will have to deal with a much more serious problem afterwards: Israel will have to single-handedly define its borders. This is the time when Olmert will need the USA’s help most.

As long as Fatah and Hamas leaders are too busy with their political problems, the Israeli government can use this time and break off relations with Palestine. Israel needs to find mutual understanding with Washington at this point in order to complete the process successfully. The USA will have to convince Arab states that there will not be a better variant for solving the conflict between Palestine and Israel.


Translated by Dmitry Sudakov

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov