Is­rael’s Olmert faces heat as army chief of staff ex­its

The Washington Times Weekly - - Front Page - By Joshua Mit­nick

TEL AVIV — Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ehud Olmert faced a tight­en­ing po­lit­i­cal vise on Jan. 17, a day af­ter the twin an­nounce­ments of a crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion against him and the sur- prise res­ig­na­tion of the army chief of staff.

Lt. Gen. Dan Ha­lutz’s ac­cep­tance of re­spon­si­bil­ity for the mil­i­tary’s fail­ure to de­feat Hezbol­lah dur­ing last sum­mer’s Le­banon war marks the first time that an Is­raeli army chief has been forced aside since the af­ter­math of the 1973 Arab-Is­raeli war and un­der­lines the lin­ger­ing tur­moil in the Is­raeli de­fense es­tab­lish­ment.

The de­ci­sion, which Is­raeli news­pa­pers de­scribed as a po­lit­i­cal “earth­quake,” reignited calls by par­lia­ment mem­bers for Mr. Olmert’s res­ig­na­tion and spurred spec­u­la­tion about early par­lia­men­tary elec­tions. Mr. Olmert’s weak pub­lic stand­ing is likely to ren­der him a de facto lame-duck leader, even as the United States tries to re­new mo­men­tum for peace talks with Pales­tini­ans.

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