I have a new article up at the LA Times explaining Olmert’s legacy: broken promises, more settlements.:
…At last Sunday’s Cabinet meeting, Olmert chose to end his term with the same message with which he began it two years ago. “The Whole Land of Israel is done with,” he said, referring to the dream of permanent Israeli rule over the West Bank. “There’s no such thing.”
For most of Olmert’s life, the Whole Land was his dream. His father served as a Knesset member for a hard-line nationalist party, and Olmert followed him into the business. But five years ago, he stunned the nation by switching sides. To remain a democracy and a Jewish state, he said, Israel had to stop ruling over the disenfranchised Palestinians of the occupied territories. Otherwise, he said, Palestinians would give up on a two-state solution and instead demand the right to vote in Israel — and Jews would become a minority of the electorate in their own country. To avoid that danger, Israel would have to give up most of the West Bank.
In 2006, as head of the new, centrist Kadima party, Olmert was elected on that promise. Addressing parliament as he took office as prime minister, he stressed that his program was “partitioning the land” with the Palestinians. And he pointed out the key obstacle to pulling back: “Continued scattered settlement throughout Judea and Samaria … endangers the existence of Israel as a Jewish state.”
Twenty-eight months later, however, Olmert’s plan has gone almost nowhere. He is engaged in an anemic negotiating process with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Meanwhile, settlements “scattered throughout … Judea and Samaria” keep growing. Official Israeli statistics show 290,000 Israelis living in the West Bank today, an increase of 30,000 in two years… Why has he worked so hard against himself?
Read the full article here, and come back to South Jerusalem to comment.