The Israeli Prime Ministership will now change hands possibly before the US Presidential elections at the beginning of November. The Kadima primaries to elect a new party leader will be held on 17 September. If the new leader is then able to form a government then the new Prime Minister will govern from around October. If the new leader is unable to form a government then Israel will go to the polls for a general election in the New Year, possibly March or April of 2009. In this situation Olmert may well remain Prime Minister until after the election. Either way, Olmert, who has said he will not stand for the party leadership in September, will not be Prime Minister after the next general election and may well not be Prime Minister as early as September.
The best thing that can happen in order to simply maintain the existing status quo in the Middle East, appalling as it is, and to minimise the risk of escalation or even all out war in the Middle East, is for the newly elected Kadima Party leader not to be able to form a government. This means that Olmert will remain Prime Minister until after the demise of President George W. Bush and, hopefully, the election Barack Obama to the Presidency.
The alternative, if any one of the likely front-runners, including present Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, wins the Kadima Party leadership and is able to form a government in coalition with some of the other rightwing political parties like Likud and/or Shas, means that this new rightwing government, far more hawkish than Olmert’s, will become the Israeli government while the Bush/Cheney/Neocon junta are still in power in the US.
A far more hawkish Israeli government led by either Livni or Shaul Mofaz, the other front-runner for the leadership, would be a lot less hesitant about attacking Iran and, if they did, they would get the full support of the US – even if Bush initially declines or is hesitant to offer full support.
The scenario becomes even more dangerous if Benjamin Netanyahu, the Likud Party leader, is offered any position in a Kadima-led coalition. His well known and close association with Vice-President Dick Cheney and his equally well-known affiliations with neoconservatives and the American Enterprise Institute could make for an extremely dangerous and volatile combination of power even this late in the Bush Presidency especially in the nothing-to-lose situation that they will all find themselves in.
All talk of peace, even the faux peace that is being discussed now, will be gone for a start. Detail plans will immediately be drawn up, if they haven’t been already, to invade the Gaza, Lebanon and to attack Iran and possibly Syria.
The world’s best hope, especially for the Palestinians and the Middle Eastern peoples, is for Olmert to remain in power at least until Obama is elected President of the US.