Will the Israeli public accept such a result as a victory? Elections are only a few weeks off, and thus this is one of those rare occasions where voters will be able to render a decisive referendum on the conduct of their government.
Olmert took the opportunity to pump up his allies who are both contending in the elections:
“I want to thank, first and foremost, my friend the defense minister, Ehud Barak, for his professional expertise, and the understanding he showed throughout the whole operation,” Olmert said. “I also want to thank and express my appreciation to Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni for her contributions to the wide-ranging diplomatic efforts that greatly enhanced the international support Israel has received.”
The latest polling shows that former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remains ahead, but reactions to this unilateral cease-fire will certainly roil the waters in advance of the February 10 vote. If the rockets continue to fall on Israel, will the electorate endorse the team that agreed to a deal that didn’t end the rocket fire and didn’t return the captive Israeli soldier?
Opposition to the cease-fire has come principally from the IDF, which is furious at the politicians for stopping what has so far been a lopsided and successful operation that has seen far fewer IDF casualties than expected. The other source of dissent is public opinion, which remains overwhelmingly in favor of finishing the job, and especially against ceasing the operation without the recovery of Gilad Shalit. It is hard to see how Livni and Barak will benefit from all of this in the national elections scheduled for February 10th.
Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg hasn’t penned a reaction yet. Watch that space.