Critics: Olmert Unpopular Because He is a Failure

Knesset Members pounced on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's speech to Kadima leaders Thursday night, saying he demonstrated his failure as a leader.

Hana Levi Julian ,

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.

Knesset Members pounced on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's speech to Kadima leaders Thursday night, saying his statements demonstrated his failure as a leader.


The Prime Minister dismissed polls showing his popularity at a record low, saying he is leading the country rather than trying to be popular. He also slammed investigators and journalists, blaming them for his poor ratings.

His statements denouncing attacks by the media and opposition aroused even more criticism by Knesset members who chided him for pushing the “victim” button in his speech.


Kadima with the notable exception of Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Tzipi Livni expressed support for the beleaguered Prime Minister, who is facing two investigations on bribery and corruption charges, in addition to a personal critique in the soon-to-be-published interim Winograd Report. The Winograd Commission was appointed by Olmert himself to probe the conduct of government officials during last summer’s war against Hizbullah terrorists in Lebanon.


Party officials were not as positive about Livni’s remarks after the speech, however.


Livni, a fellow Kadima member who is widely considered the top candidate to replace Prime Minister Olmert if the government fails, was the lone voice in the crowd who evaded expressing outright support for him.  She confined her remarks to calling on party members to unite behind the Prime Minister. 


Kadima officials close to Olmert criticized her for putting politics above the party’s welfare.  “All of the party’s top members stood behind the prime minister and managed to rise above their own political concerns – except for Livni,” said an Olmert aide. “The political situation isn’t easy for anyone, but there were those who knew to do the right thing and support the Prime Minister, and those who didn’t.”


Members of other political parties were quick to add fuel to the fire.


Likud MK Yisrael Katz vowed to introduce a bill to dissolve the Knesset because the speech "proved that Olmert has lost control...and there is no choice other than to call new elections."


National Union MK Uri Ariel called for the Prime Minister to resign.

From the opposite side of the political spectrum, Meretz Knesset Member Avshalom Vilan said, "The Prime Minister sounded pathetic to a certain degree." He advised Olmert to “examine himself instead of saying that everyone else is wrong."


Likud Knesset Member Limor Livnat scored Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for making an "excellent" speech that "does not forgive the tragedies of the past several months and collapse of government policy...and security."

Speaking on Voice of Israel government radio, the former Education Minister ridiculed the Prime Minister's statement, "I know I am not popular," and said bluntly that Olmert is not popular "because he is a failure."

Livnat added that the Prime Minister could raise his ratings in the polls if would live up to his promises to pay regional council workers.


She also recommended that Olmert order two government committees to make a decision on naming last summer's war against the Hizbullah terrorist organization in Lebanon. Both have been advised by the government not to refer to the 33-day conflict as a war. More than 115 soldiers lost their lives, hundreds were wounded and two hostages were taken in the fierce battles with Hizbullah guerrillas.


Parents of soldiers who fell in the war have given up on the committees and have decided themselves to re-write the gravestones of their sons to note they died in the war in Lebanon.