After listening to many of his statements, some of them very impressive, one comes to recognize that Ehud Olmert perhaps truly desires peace with the Palestinians. The fact that he has not zigzagged, not even once, that he only reiterates the same things, speaking like Uri Avnery (even if 40 years late), that he does not backtrack or stutter – only reinforces this feeling. It is permissible, therefore, to succumb to the temptation and believe that the man who told Haaretz on November 28, “two states, or Israel is finished,” indeed has undergone a profound change.
However, there’s a catch: This welcome change of consciousness has not yet been accompanied by any practical action. The settlements are flourishing, 10,000 Palestinian prisoners are rotting in prisons, Gaza is starved and blacked-out, Shin Bet security service investigators are torturing, the checkpoints incarcerating and the acacias blooming in the territories. The conclusion: Olmert wants, but is unable. Or perhaps he wants, but is afraid. The common explanation: If he takes any practical step to implement his intentions, his government will collapse immediately. Olmert is imprisoned in his impossible coalition. If he only dares to do something, Avigdor Lieberman and Eli Yishai will quit, and Olmert will be left without parliamentary support.
Well, this is an illusion.