Ehud Olmert's Moment

With poll ratings at rock bottom, Israel's PM could make a grand gesture toward a Middle East breakthrough. Don't hold your breath says Joe Klein

Alexandra Boulat - VII for TIME

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert after an interview for TIME with Joe Klein and Tim McGirk at Olmert's residence in Jerusalem on March 23, 2007.

Political popularity is usually relative. Even the most unloved politicians have a hard core of supporters who will back them no matter what. But in Israel these days, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is testing the limits of the possible: in a recent poll by a local television station, he had a favorable rating of 3%. Given the poll's margin of error, it was possible Olmert had no support beyond his extended family. The Prime Minister responded to this dismaying turn of events--caused by Israel's less than triumphant war against Hizballah last summer, plus a gaudy array of scandals among his Cabinet...

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