Netanyahu Going Into Action to Topple Olmert

Opposition head instructs activists to begin weekly protest vigils against Olmert's government under the slogan "You've Failed – Go Home."

Gil Ronen,

Likud Chairman and head of the Opposition Binyamin Netanyahu has decided to abandon his wait-and-see strategy and to launch a public campaign for toppling Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's government. In a rally held Tuesday at the Likud headquarters building 'Metzudat Ze'ev' in Tel Aviv, Netanyahu reportedly told his supporters "this government has to go home and we need to start acting to make this happen."

He told them to begin holding weekly protest vigils every Friday in busy intersections throughout Israel as well as street demonstrations. "The slogan is simple," he said: "'You've Failed – Go Home'."

According to NRG, the meeting was attended by dozens of Likud branch chairmen and other central activists from all parts of Israel. Netanyahu informed them of a working plan for country-wide protest vigils with the intention of creating an atmosphere conducive to bringing down the government. Netanyahu assured the activists that he would be joining the protests on a regular basis.

Netanyahu's move appears to be timed with precision, as the date of release of the interim report by the Winograd Commission approaches. The Winograd Commission was appointed to investigate failures in the conduct of the Second Lebanon War last summer and is expected to have harsh criticism for the government and its heads. Prime Minister Olmert has received record-setting low marks of support in the polls, one of which recently gave him an amazingly low 3% support level – less than the margin of error.

The polls also predict the Likud will receive 30 to 35 Knesset seats – compared to its present representation of 12 MKs. The polls have consistently predicted an election outcome that would make it possible for Netanyahu to handily form a coalition based on a partnership with the National Union/NRP and Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu, which are expected to garner about 20 seats between them, and a haredi religious party like Shas, which is expected to receive about 10 seats. In addition, a recent poll gave Arkadi Gaydamak 9 seats, assuming he will indeed form a political party as he has said he would.

In interviews he gave the press at the start of the Passover holiday, Netanyahu said he felt ripe for the position of Prime Minister and had learned his lessons from his previous term at the government's helm. He also predicted Olmert's government would fall prematurely due to public pressure.

Olmert's government has thus far proven stable, despite its decline in popularity. There is some apprehension among Olmert's opponents who maintain that a deal between Olmert and the media may be in the works, in which the media would prop him up in exchange for his adoption of a far left agenda.



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