The next Israeli Prime Minister is, apparently, leading Kadima. The main issue is to know whether Olmert will follow the steps of Ariel Sharon or whether he will adopt an independent stance. It is likely that Olmert claims he has the intention of following Sharon’s plans after the elections, but in real terms, Sharon never revealed his political cards and the stance presented to the Committee of Israeli Editors, on October 29, 2005, only opened options.
Olmert’s vision of the world, as well as that of a number of right wing politicians, changed during the past few years. In this way, he supported the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza Strip, which was conducted by Sharon. Olmert hopes to be tough and is not willing to trust them. If we go by his statements in the past two years, it seems that he had concluded that Israel will not be able to continue being a Jewish and democratic nation if it does not change its stance. There is no doubt that he is drawn by the concern about the low Israeli demographic rate compared to the number of Palestinians. Therefore, on his own, he champions the idea of limiting the State of Israel to the territories where he can count on a majority of Jewish citizens.
Olmert fears that Palestinian terrorism goes on even if Israel suggests a painful agreement, either an intentional one because they are unable to keep their promises aimed at putting an end to violence. That was what happened to the Palestinians in Lebanon and Jordan where they triggered civil wars. Sharon thought he could totally stop terrorism by force. This did not happen. That makes Olmert to think that it is necessary to continue with major unilateral withdrawals, as in Gaza.
After the elections, the government he will lead, will face various problems that will require different strategies. The first possibility is that the Palestinians continue with their terrorism. The Israeli government would expect the Palestinians to respect the route map, and during this period it would react by force. Washington would see this as a defensive war, but would request Olmert to keep Sharon’s promise to dismantle the illegal checkpoints and stop the expansion of the colonies. This demand would be compliant with part of the route map and with the promise given in writing by Sharon to President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Another strategic option, which is more difficult to be implemented, is therefore less likely to be achieved, would be to get to a final status. It would seem doubtful that the PLO would be able to achieve this on its own. Besides, there is no doubt that Hamas, is getting stronger with the elections. Without a real support from the main Arab countries, negotiations might become swamped, as it happened to Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat in Camp David.
The third strategy is that Israel would try establish its temporary borders on its own, as per the route map, in front of the Palestinian entity, which will become later a state. Israel cannot accomplish this without other unilateral withdrawals, or just through the separation wall. This implies a withdrawal of the isolated colonies and illegal military outposts. Later, a withdrawal of the Jewish from East Jerusalem would be necessary, which would seem inconceivable for a man of Likud like Olmert. This time, he will have the historical opportunity to consolidate the State of Israel: maintaining democratic and Jewish independence of the state, and ensuring its security.

Ha&8217;aretz (Israel)
Reference newspaper for the Israeli intellectual left wing. Property of Schocken family. Circulation: 75 000 copies.

Olmert’s strategic options”, by Ze’ev Schiff, Haaretz, January 13, 2006.