"I'm very excited," Olmert said to the cheering crowd as he took the stage. "I think it will be my last public appearance for quite a while."
Olmert speaks at festive event (Photo: Yaron Brener)
He said it had been "painful" for him to leave his position behind due to corruption charges, but hinted at a possible comeback.
"I have only resigned from the office of prime minister. I will be with you all the way. There are temporary situations which we know from politics and we know they change. I promise you we will convene in a bigger hall for a larger victory party," he said.
Olmert also referred to Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's criticism against the Annapolis Summit. Speaking of the peace conference hosted by the US he said, "It was an event that branded the consciousness of millions of people around the world who realized that Israel is an existing fact." He also warned against relinquishing the two-state solution.
Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni bade Olmert goodbye by saying, "There were many differences of opinion between us, but you knew how to listen and to argue and you knew how to make decisions that I know you felt – even if I disagreed – were the best for Israel."
MK Dalia Itzik said, "I think you will be back. Israel cannot forgo your contribution. Thank you, Ehud, we love you."
MK Tzachi Hangebi also complimented Olmert. "The bold decisions, some of which you made in solitude that can paralyze but didn't paralyze you, gave me a feeling of pride that my prime minister and chairman is gifted with the characteristics required to affect Israel's future and existence for years to come," he said.