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