Acting Prime Minister and Kadima leader Ehud Olmert turned to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas early Wednesday and called for "reconciliation, compromise and peace," but told the PA chairman Israel will not "wait forever."
Olmert speaks (Footage: Knesset Channel)
In order to move forward Israel will need to renounce parts of the Land of Israel and evacuate Jews from their homes, the acting PM said.
In his victory speech following what is shaping up as a Kadima election victory, Olmert said: "A chapter in the history of the country has ended. We're tasked with shaping the future of the State, and before we bring peace with our neighbors we must make peace within, us patiently and with love."
Olmert and Peres are all smiles (Photo: AP)
"The people have spoken clearly, they want Kadima," olmert said, and spoke about the need to renounce the dream of the Greater Land of Israel "and evacuate, with much pain, Jews."
Olmert thanks Sharon
Despite Hamas' election victory, Olmert turned to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and called on him to bring peace. The acting PM also repeated his pre-election pledges to "take our destiny in our own hands, in coordination with the United States and the international community."
"I'm saying those things here and now out of a belief in the State of Israel's immense power and the immeasurable courage of its soldiers, military leaders, and security forces to hit any enemy and defeat any terrorist," Olmert said. "Out of this sense of strength we must act with all our power in order to create hope for a different life for our young generation and that of our Palestinian neighbors."
Big night for Olmert and Livni (Photo: Haim Tsach)
The acting PM said that in the coming period he intends to strive for the formulation of the State of Israel's permanent borders as a Jewish democratic state.
"There's no better replacement than a peace deal, and no peace is more stable that one based on an agreement premised on mutual recognition, deals signed in the past, the principles of the Road Map, and of course, an end to violence and the disarming of terror groups," he said.
In his speech, Olmert also expressed his gratitude to ailing Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who he said "changed direction, aroused hope, and proposed a new way."
"I've had three difficult months since the night of January 4th," Olmert said, referring to the night PM Sharon was rushed to hospital after suffering a massive stroke. "But I didn't remain alone. I was surrounded with love, good will, and an endless willingness to assist me in running the State of Israel."
Kadima headquarters Tuesday night (Photo: Haim Tsach)
Earlier, Olmert went to the Western Wall in Jerusalem to express his gratitude for the victory.
Meanwhile, the vote count is on in earnest, with final results expected to confirm Kadima's win.
According to all exit polls, Kadima won around 30 seats, with Labor finishing second at around 20 seats. Israel Our Home, led by Avigdor Lieberman, is slated to become the third largest party with 12-14 seats, according to the polls.
Ahiya Raved contributed to the story