Olmert in his Aipac swansong

By Nathan Guttman, June 5, 2008

In what may be his last trip as prime minister to Washington, embattled Israeli leader Ehud Olmert met President George Bush and congressional leaders.

At the centre of Mr Olmert’s talks with President Bush was the emerging nuclear threat posed by Iran. Mr Olmert, according to Israeli sources prior to the meeting, wished to stress that Iran was still actively pursuing nuclear weapons, a view in contrast to the US National Intelligence Estimate which determined that Iran was no longer actively involved in developing nuclear weapons. President Bush has expressed in the past his reservations regarding the intelligence estimate.

Mr Olmert acknowledged his complicated domestic situation in his speech at the Aipac conference on Tuesday night. He said: “Israeli politics is accustomed to all kinds of trials and tribulations, but your love and support for the State of Israel provides a powerful foundation, a solid rock on which we know we can always rely, in good times and in times of crisis.”

Still, Mr Olmert’s political prospects were the talk of the day for many delegates at the Washington convention centre. Israeli diplomats and officials said this was first issue raised by American activists at the conference. “Will he survive?” they asked.

These questions were, for the most part, left unanswered.

Last updated: 10:37am, June 5 2008