Ehud Olmer's year and a half in office have been a calamity for Israel—the election of Hamas in Palestine, the breakdown of the peace process, the botched war with Hezbollah, the Hamas takeover of Gaza. But the profoundly unpopular PM, whose approval rating sank to 3%, is actually in a strongest position he's enjoyed in a year, reports Salon.
The addition to his government of Ehud Barak as defense minister and Shimon Perez as president, both old friends and political allies, are strengthening his hold on power and stifling political opponents. More than one Israeli commentator, Salon notes, has referred to these additions as the start of a "second Olmert government." And with Hamas ruling over a chaotic Gaza, Olmert can wash his hands of peace talks for the immediate future.