Olmert - 'Yes, mistakes were made'
Photo: Yotam Frum
Abbas - 'Best leadership for peacemaking'
Photo: AP
Gaza border - 'Israel will not allow humanitarian crisis to develop'
Photo: AFP

Olmert: I do not regret decisions made during war

Week before Winograd Commission issues its final report, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert lists Israel's accomplishments in the Second Lebanon War at annual Herzliya Conference

Speaking at the closing session of the annual Herzliya Conference on Wednesday evening, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert defended his conduct during the Second Lebanon War and said that he was at peace with his wartime decisions.


"I do not regret the crucial decisions I made as prime minister – not those pertaining to the fighting in Lebanon and not those concerning other events. Mistakes were made – yes. And there were failings – certainly. But, lessons were learned, mistakes were corrected and operational patterns were changed, and foremost - the decisions we have made since then have brought us more security, more quiet, less terror, greater deterrence and more prosperity to Israel than it has seen in years," said Olmert.


"The current situation in northern Israel is better by far than it ever was before. Israel's northern residents live in peace and security. And the boys have not yet come home (referring to kidnapped Israeli soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev), I do not forget this even for a second."


"In reviewing the year of 2007, I ask to point out that there is peace in the north. There are no daily clashes, no rockets or Qassams. And this has not only lasted one day or even one month, but 18 full months. This is the longest period of quiet the North has seen in 25 years. The North is blossoming and blooming, and no one welcomes this more than I."


"Our enemies to the north are not rushing to fight us. They know why. The reasons are clear; they are tangibly felt in the region and known to all who need to know. They reflect Israel's colossal might and the daring and tenacity of its fighters."


'We can make peace with this PA leadership'

The prime minister said has no intentions of missing the present opportunity for peace. "We haven't the right to miss this chance, slim and fragile and risky as it may be," Olmert said, adding that he too did not have the right to place his own political considerations, or those of his government, over the narrow opening for peace.


"I would not have the moral right to serve as the prime minister of the Jewish people and the State of Israel if I did not take those chances and face those obstacles and expose myself to the challenges involved in this. And so, I have no intention of easing up, no matter the political and personal cost."


Olmert voiced his support for the Palestinian leadership in power. "They say it (Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah government) is weak and lacks the capabilities necessary to implement their commitments - they say it has no control over Gaza, and so what is the point of negotiating over Judea and Samaria with them. And I say that there is no better Palestinian leadership than this current one to negotiate peace with."


Olmert also addressed the situation in Gaza and said that while Israel would not allow a humanitarian crisis to develop in the Hamas-controlled territory, it could not be expected to ignore the incessant rocket attacks on its south.


"We will continue to target terror leaders in the Gaza Strip and we will not hesitate to affect the quality of life of its residents. Under no conditions or circumstances will we allow for a humanitarian crisis to develop. We will not harm food provisions for children, nor medicines for those in need or fuel for institutions working to save lives," said Olmert, adding that he had given his full support to the measures ordered by Defense Minister Ehud Barak.


"But there is no justification or basis for demanding that we allow the citizens of Gaza to lead normal lives while rockets and shells are fired from their streets and backyards into Sderot and the southern communities. Does anyone seriously believe that our children will wet their beds at night from fear and be afraid to leave their home while they (the Palestinians) continue their peaceful daily routines?"


פרסום ראשון: 01.23.08, 20:33
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