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Olmert - A warning
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Barak - Will Labor join Likud?
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Olmert warns against joining Likud government
PM Olmert directs thinly-veiled attack at Defense Minister Barak at Sunday's cabinet meeting, employing abrasive rhetoric to warn those thinking of joining Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing government that they will lead to Israel's isolation in the world

The rhetoric was pointedly harsh and the message had a clear address – Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert launched an assault at Sunday's cabinet meeting against politicians leaning towards joining a right-wing government that does not recognize the two-state solution.

 

Olmert warned that such a government would lead to Israel's isolation in the international community.

While summing up his term as premier of the 31st government, Olmert took issue with the possibility of seeing the Annapolis peace process destroyed.

 

The PM said that any government that would turn its back on 'two states for two peoples' would find itself responsible for a major crisis.

 

"Those who know the truth deep inside but prioritize other considerations, ones that have nothing to do with the country's interests, they will not be absolved and Israeli history will not forgive them," said Olmert.

 

Barak joined the meeting towards the end of Olmert's speech, at which point the latter stressed that his words were not directed at any specific individual. It is clear however, that they were intended for Barak.

 

The prime minister also summarized the advancement of the peace process during his time in office.

 

"Over the past few years the negotiations between us and the Palestinians have been serious, intense and thorough. Anyone who thinks it's possible to go back to the old formulas and secure a viable peace through them is misleading not only themselves but the entire public as well, they can cause irreversible damage.

 

"The real choice is between two states for two peoples and one state for two peoples, meaning a state that is not Jewish and democratic. This is the choice… and in my opinion it will result in grave damage to the State of Israel."

 

The Iran factor

According to Olmert, and government that rejects the two-state solution will find it difficult to galvanize international support against Iran.

 

"This battle is not only dependant on our military capabilities. Anyone who thinks they can rally that kind of cooperation using a policy that destroys any chance of a political arrangement between us and the Palestinians, or us and the Syrians, is delusional."

 

Olmert also tried to inject some support for Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni's decision to reject

Netanyahu's offer. "I hoped there would be a national unity government, but there is only one configuration for such a government, everything else is a joke. A national unity government is one where two nearly-equal forces come together to form one government, to lead one country," he said.

 

Barak's office responded to Olmert's statements, saying that it "will not be dragged into responding to these pathetic attempts, which Olmert has difficulty concealing, to attack Defense Minister Barak by any means and at any price."

 

The defense minister's office added that it "would be better for Mr. Olmert to resign in silence and allow the political arena to function, for the country's sake."

 

At this stage it is unclear if Labor will indeed join Netanyahu, as Barak is advocating. Several key party figures, such as Minister Isaac Herzog, have yet to announce their position on the matter.

 


First published: 03.22.09, 21:37
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