Former prime minister calls for caution on Iran and more respect for Obama at Jerusalem Post conference here.
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There was a time when “Israeli politics stopped at the Mediterranean,” Danny Ayalon, Israel’s deputy foreign minister, told the large crowd Sunday morning at the first annual Jerusalem Post conference in New York.
When traveling out of the country, Israeli officials spoke with “one voice,” he said almost wistfully, recalling those displays of unity. But not anymore.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s popularity edged up in the polls this week following a hastily called press conference at which he disclosed that he had prostate cancer but intended to attend the Israeli-Palestinian summit meeting later this year in Annapolis, Md., before having surgery to cut out the cancer.
Despite lengthy police questioning this week of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert into his role in a bank privatization deal, analysts have all but dismissed the probe and said Olmert’s political fortunes have never been better.
Herzliya, Israel — When I asked my taxi driver, on the way to the opening session of the annual Herzliya Conference on Sunday, who he would vote for for prime minister today, he answered without hesitation: "Begin."
It’s true that even Menachem Begin’s political enemies considered the country’s first Likud prime minister to be a man of deep integrity who always said what he believed — a characteristic not readily found among politicians these days.
But Begin died in 1992.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s dramatic invitation Sunday to “all Arab leaders, including the Saudi king” to come to Israel to negotiate an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict followed what some analysts viewed as positive signs coming from last week’s Arab summit. But others dismissed Olmert’s invitation as less than substantive and argued that the Arabs did nothing more than restate an earlier ultimatum to Israel.
Just a few months ago, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was fighting for his political life. Now, with the collapse of the Palestinian unity government and Hamas’ bloody takeover in Gaza, Olmert was warmly greeted this week at the White House and by Jewish leaders here.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert this week won German support for sanctions against Iran aimed at ending its nuclear program and flew to Italy to receive similar support there. But at home the buzz was all about his apparent acknowledgement of Israel’s own nuclear arsenal.
When Yitzchak Shamir was facing Yitzchak Rabin in the 1992 election, Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert counseled Shamir to announce that if elected he would withdraw from the Gaza Strip.
"He felt that Shamir needed to do that to save the election," recalled Stephen P. Cohen, a national scholar of the Israel Policy Forum. "Shamir said no and Rabin won the election."