Olmert bids farewell to Knesset - Israel News, Ynetnews

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'Stepping down with pride'. Olmert Photo: Yoram Cohen
'Stepping down with pride'. Olmert Photo: Yoram Cohen

Olmert bids farewell to Knesset

At beginning of Netanyahu government's induction ceremony, outgoing PM says he is stepping down with 'head held high,' adding 'gaps with Palestinians not unbridgeable'

Amnon Meranda
Published: 03.31.09, 17:44 / Israel News

Farewell to politics: "I haven't a shred of bitterness or of anger. I'm stepping down with pride, with my head held high and with a deep sense of gratitude for the privilege I have had to lead the State of Israel," said outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert Tuesday, as he addressed Knesset at the induction ceremony of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's new government.


Speaking of the Second Lebanon War, Olmert said that "the results of any war can only be determined over time. Depicting the war as one we have lost wrongs the truth."


Turning his attention to Operation Cast Lead, the departing prime minister said that "the IDF is the most ethical army in the world. We went to great lengths to keep civilians away from battle zones and we deeply regret any casualties. It is too early to sum up the achievements of the operation. We do know it was imperative and I am convinced it created the necessary deterrence needed to curb the arm smugglings into Gaza. The future will surely prove me right."


'I did it my way.' Olmert (Photo: Gil Yohanan)


"Gilad Shalit is still held captive," continued Olmert. "Throughout my term in office I have done everything I possibly could to ensure his safe return. I elasticized Israel's positions to the maximum and beyond. But even we have a red line… I am positive the new government will continue in the efforts to bring on Gilad's release.


"Our negotiations with the Palestinian have not matured into an agreement, but the gaps are not unbridgeable. In the Syrian avenue we were able to come to the threshold of direct negotiations, but we still have a way to go… A government that seeks peace, as the Israeli government was, a government which initiates and is willing to make concessions for peace has (international) support.


"I am finishing my term in office and retiring from politics," he concluded, "And as the song goes – I did it my way."


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