Olmert: Scattered settlements endanger us
'If Palestinian Authority does not cooperate with us, we'll work alone to shape Israel's defensible borders, prime minister says as he presents basic principles of his government before Knesset; ‘the scattered settlements in Judea and Samaria endanger us,' he adds
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert presented the principles that will guide his new government before the Knesset on Thursday.
"The continuance of scattered Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria endanger us," said Olmert. He added that "if the Palestinian Authority doesn't cooperate with us, we'll work alone to shape the defensible borders of Israel."
Olmert said that there would be a dialogue over his plan with the Palestinians. "I also dreamt in the past that a day will not come in which we will have to give up on parts of the Land of Israel," the prime minister told the Knesset.
He added: "At the end of the coalition negotiations which were handled responsibly and wisely between the parties, agreements were signed, and the basic principles of the new government were formulated. At the start of the week I notified the president that I was able to assemble a government. Today, out of recognition of the large privilege and responsibility of which none are heavier, I plan asking the Knesset for its faith in the government I will present to it."
Olmert said that "in the outgoing government I served as acting prime minister for prime minister Ariel Sharon. I stood by his side during tough days of contemplations and decisive decisions. I treasured his bravery, calmness, and stable leadership. Even when everything was stormy around him, Arik stood in the eye of the storm, quiet and sure, his hand stable and focused on the steering wheel. From here, in the name of the government of Israel, in this house and in the name of all of the citizens of the State, I express my hope and prayer that Ariel Sharon will be able to see the realization of his political vision."
The Yesha Council released a statement attacking Olmert’s comments.
"Olmert plans to endanger the State of Israel by selling strategic land to Hamas control. This should control not only the residents of Judea and Samaria but every sane citizen in the State of Israel. Olmert and his unripe government seek to give the terrorists the last bulletproof vest in Israel," the statement said.
'Challenges that face us are complex'
The Knesset elected Dalia Itzik (Kadima) to the position of Knesset Speaker. She is the first woman to serve in the role.
The newly elected Knesset Speaker said that she will serve emissary of all political parties. "We have the task to restore respect for the house that was penalized by the public during the elections," Itzik said.
During a Labor faction meeting, party Chairman Amir Peretz said: "This is one of the most important periods for the State. The challenges that face us are complex and a lot depends on us. We went through an uneasy period of internal democratic maneuvers within the party, but we must show that our party is united in the Knesset."
Addressing voices in his party who objected Kadima's nomination of Itzik for Knesset Speaker, Peretz said: "Everyone must accept the rule in the elections. I know it's not simple but respect of coalition agreements is the condition necessary for the existence of a democracy."
The Labor chairman said he will meet with members of the party to "unite the ranks."
Efrat Weiss contributed to the report