History is unlikely to be kind to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel. He disastrously mismanaged the 2006 Lebanon war. And now, besmirched by financial scandals, he has announced plans to leave office as soon as a successor can be confirmed.
Mr. Olmert does, however, understand that a two-state solution with the Palestinians is vital for Israel's security. We hope that his successor does as well and brings a greater sense of urgency to the negotiations.
There has always been a wide gap between what Mr. Olmert understands about the need for a peace settlement and what he has done about it. Merely meeting the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, for periodic talks is not enough.
Without jeopardizing its security, Israel could take important steps to improve the lives of ordinary Palestinians and give them a real stake in peace. In his remaining weeks or months in power, Mr. Olmert could burnish his legacy, and the prospects for an agreement, if he announced a full freeze on expansion of Jewish settlements and reduced the number of roadblocks in the West Bank that are strangling the Palestinian economy.
Those now maneuvering to succeed Mr. Olmert also need to behave responsibly. Two of the main contenders — Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni from Mr. Olmert's Kadima Party and the Labor Party leader, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, favor a two-state solution. The other two — Transport Minister Shaul Mofaz, also from Kadima, and Benjamin Netanyahu, the Likud Party leader and former prime minister — do not. They need to think again.