Olmert warns of more bulldozer attacks in capital
Prime minister tells Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, 'Those who think basic pattern of life in Jerusalem will continue as it is, with 270,000 Arab residents, must take into account more bulldozers, trucks and private vehicles.' He estimates Hizbullah refraining from avenging Imad Mugniyah's death as 'Nasrallah has lost his self-confidence in anticipating Israel's response'
However, addressing the recent bulldozer attacks in Jerusalem, the prime minister had a less optimistic message, hinting that the solution was to divide the capital.
"Whoever thinks the basic pattern of life in Jerusalem will continue as it is, with 270,000 Arabs living in Jerusalem, must take into account that there will be more bulldozers, trucks and private vehicles. There is no way to prevent such acts of terror. We must consider dealing with this issue in the future."
The prime minister briefed the committee on Israel's geostrategic situation, stressing that there has been no change over the past few months.
"We continue to deal with the same basic threats which have characterized the past two months, and simultaneously, we are going ahead with the diplomatic processes we were engaged in," he said
Olmert noted that the chances for a flare-up on the northern front in the near future were "highly unlikely". Hizbullah, he said, is busy with internal Lebanese politics and with its efforts to restore its status in Lebanon following the war.
"Over the past two years they have been significantly deterred from a military conflict with us in southern Lebanon," he said.
Olmert at with committee chair MK Tzachi Hanegbi (Photo: Dudi Vaaknin)
Olmert estimated that Hizbullah would try to avenge the "disappearance" of Imad Mugniyah, but added, "It appears to me that it's afraid to respond. Nasrallah has lost his self-confidence in his ability to anticipate Israel's reaction. They are afraid of a disproportional Israeli response."
The prime minister added that Hizbullah "continues to grow stronger, and we are following this closely and are sensitive to any change that may violate the balance which we wish to keep unchanged."
As for the negotiations with Syria, the prime minister noted, "There is no doubt that the negotiations created certain options for the Syrians, which did not exist before. They are still small and more limited than some of the government's critics ascribe to them."
He lashed out at attempts by unofficial elements in Israel to establish relations with Damascus.
"There is quite of bit of international suspicion against Syria due to its background and past. They continue to take a parallel route of contact with Iran, terror in Iraq, aiding Hizbullah and the terror organizations in the Judea and Samaria territories. This increases the feeling that they are taking two parallel routes.
"The Syrians will have to understand that both routes cannot be taken. The entire world cannot be deceived part of the time – or part of the world most of the time – but the entire world cannot be deceived all the time."
Brigadier-General Yossi Baidetz, head of the research division at the Military Intelligence Corps, told the committee that the recent prisoner exchange deal with Hizbullah boosted the terror organizations.
Devoted to truce
Olmert went on to explain why Israel must stick to the ceasefire in Gaza despite the violations.
"The question we are facing right now, and we assumed this would happen in advance, is whether today's circumstances justify an operation against Hamas, with all the ramifications. According to estimates, the violations have yet to create a good enough reason to change the situation, but this does not mean that this estimate won't change in the near future."
As for the negotiations with the Palestinians, it appears the optimism is decreasing.
"I don’t believe we'll be able to reach an understanding which will include the Jerusalem issue this year," Olmert said. "However, on the rest of the core issues the gaps are not dramatic. On the refugee issue we can lead to an understanding that will not make us take responsibility or solve the matter in the boundaries of the State of Israel.
"The gap is unbridgeable also in terms of the borders. We will bring the issue to a democratic decision, which takes into account all the views in the State of Israel."