Major party leaders are all lousy, Olmert moans

Major party leaders are all lousy, Olmert moans

Former prime minister wallops politicians left, right and center, says Netanyahu is afraid to make hard decisions

Aaron Kalman is a former writer and breaking news editor for the Times of Israel

Former prime minister Ehud Olmert (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90/File)
Former prime minister Ehud Olmert (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90/File)

None of Israel’s potential leaders is worth a dime, former prime minister Ehud Olmert indicated on Tuesday, lashing out at the heads of parties left, right and center.

Olmert, who chose not to make a comeback to politics this year while he battles a series of corruption cases, accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of being afraid of deciding on important issues.

“I’m not disqualifying him, he’s a good candidate — but he shouldn’t be prime minister,” Olmert was quoted as saying at a gathering of Kadima members.

As for Labor head Shelly Yachimovich and Hatnua leader Tzipi Livni — the latter who was once Olmert’s No. 2 in Kadima — they are unprofessional and shallow, respectively, Olmert charged. He continued that not one of the candidates was making truthful statements for which they could be accountable after the elections.

Olmert said that he cared for Israel, and the fact that he wasn’t running for office didn’t take away from his responsibility to speak his mind about topics that concern him.

“We can’t avoid the responsibility of addressing the diplomatic issue,” Olmert told the crowd. All the “serious people” in the international arena are aware that time is running out if we want to “guarantee Israel is Jewish and democratic,” he claimed, speaking on the day that the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics claimed Jews would be a minority in the region by 2020.

Olmert served as prime minister from 2006-2009, stepping down after being accused of a litany of corruption charges. Cleared of the most serious of them, but convicted of breach of trust, facing a state appeal against the acquittals and still on trial in another case, Olmert was said to be considering a comeback to politics, but in the end decided to stay out of the race.

He said that voters should vote for change if they wanted to avoid a national nightmare.

If the next government is comprised of the parties and forces that formed the previous one, “Israel will be racing down a slope that will cause us great damage, both diplomatically and socially,” he warned.

Olmert said Yachimovich’s “monumental plan” to increase the budget by NIS 28 billion was “superfluous, hollow [and] populist.” Where would the funds come from, he asked, although he also noted that the prime minister had no actionable economic plan for the day after the elections.

As for Livni, who served as foreign minister under Olmert and led Kadima after he stepped down, she was too focused on winning votes through slogans. “I’m not against slogans. But what’s the practical substance behind it?” he asked.

Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett also received a public scolding. “One day he was saying he would refuse an order [to evacuate settlements] and the next he was apologizing because someone told him what that would portray,” the former prime minister said. Since Bennett was so good at summoning all the media to respond, he’d probably be the first person Netanyahu would invite to join his coalition, Olmert predicted.

Though Kadima is the largest party in the Knesset, it is expected to fare poorly in the upcoming elections, with some polls showing it failing to put any members in the Knesset later this month.

Still, Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz told the same gathering the party would continue to fight, no matter how grim the prognostications.

“We can’t close our eyes,” Mofaz said. The party “will continue to fight for what it believes, and will continue to influence the future of Israel,” he stated.

The financial plan presented by Yachimovich was the “only extensive, responsible and serious one,” Labor told Ynet following Olmert’s statements, saying it was the only program that would allow for a “fair economy.”

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