Ehud Olmert acknowledged his low approval ratings. The Israeli prime minister said in a speech late Thursday that he was aware his popularity had plummeted over public perceptions that he mishandled last year’s Lebanon war, but said he had no intention of resigning. “I’m an unpopular prime minister, the polls say so. I think they are right,” Olmert told a conference of his Kadima Party. “Though some think it’s ‘open season,’ I am sorry to disappoint my detractors. I am here to work.” A recent survey found that if elections were held today, Olmert would take just 3 percent of votes, with his arch-rival Benjamin Netanyahu taking 30 percent. Olmert hinted that he regretted not launching a more aggressive ground sweep against Hezbollah guerrillas when the Lebanon war erupted July 12. Israel’s initial reliance on air force and artillery is widely perceived as having allowed Hezbollah to fire thousands of missiles across the border and escape crushing defeat. In his speech, Olmert said he might have been “much more popular” had he listened more closely to the advice of his generals.
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