Sunday, March 18, 2007

Talking Tough

Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has given a predictably tough response to the new Palestinian government, which features power-sharing between the rival Hamas and Fatah groups. He, as well as the US, have picked up on the part of the administration's platform that talks about resistance against Israel "in all its forms." Discussions about a Palestinian state are off the table until that line softens.

It's typical of the stern posturing we've seen from Mr Olmert since he became Prime Minister, when Ariel Sharon slipped into a coma. After a succession of Israeli leaders (such as Sharon) with strong military records, he feels like he needs to constantly prove what a robust figurehead he is, as if to make up for his lack of real fighting experience. He may yet even be forced to resign amid claims he and his similarly dovish defence secretary Amir Peretz actually cooked up the plan for last summer's war against Hizbollah months in advance.

Talking tough may keep Mr Olmert popular enough with the Israeli public to stay in power in the short-term, but it'll do nothing for the chances of long-term peace.

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