For those of you just coming out of your caves, Israel currently has a transitional government as it prepares for elections in late February. As a result of her inability to form a governing coalition, Tzipi Livni never got to remove the word "designate" from the title "prime minister" she so craved.
There is a traditional understanding in democracies that transitional governments do not undertake major initiatives. This is for two basic reasons - one is that the government at this point really isn't in charge anymore but only keeping the seat warm until a new one is elected. The second is that any initiatives it does attempt will wind up being handled by the incoming government which may find itself having to clean up messes it had no hand in creating.
All this seems lost on the most incompetent prime minister Israelis ever elected - Ehud Olmert. Despite a popularity rating inthe single digits, despite not being an actual party leader anymore, despite having only a transitional government to work with, he continues to make state-altering decisions regarding the so-called peace process.
And what's his excuse?
"The decision to set a deadline for the end of the year in a bid to reach an agreement with the Palestinians, while attempting to reach an agreement with the Syrians, has nothing to do with the identity of the US president or leader and the person who will replace him, whether it's Barack Obama or John McCain. I know them both and know they will be Israel's friends.
"Analyzing what is happening here, and the developments in the Palestinian Authority and in the international arena, the question is whether we can delay our handling of these problems. I think not.
The only part of that which makes any sense is the final sentence: Olmert does not apparently think, except of himself and his post-career options.
What is the rush? The last time I checked, Israel still held most of Yesha in its posession. It was the dominant regional military power after Hezbollah. It's the Arabs who are making the demands without offering anything in return. If anything, Israel has time and should be making the Arabs beg for negotiations, not the other way around.
How craven and desperate Olmert is can be seen by his continued efforts to sell out his country even after he has lost all legitimacy to do so.