Olmert. Unprecedented offer to PA
Photo: Guy Assayag

Olmert: Peace with Syria possible, can change Middle East

In rare public appearance, former prime minister criticizes Netanyahu in respect to stalemate with Palestinians, growing tensions with Turkey and lack of contacts with Syria. 'Peace is essential and urgent,' he says

While mostly being mentioned in relation to his trial, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert made a rare public appearance Sunday, during which he criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu regarding Israel's conduct vis-à-vis Turkey, Syria and the Palestinians. Olmert made the statements during a conference at the Tel Aviv University.


Amid growing tensions with Turkey and Israel's refusal to accept it as a mediator in negotiations with Syria, Olmert said, "We can reach an understanding with the Syrians which would change the map in the Middle East. A decision on this issue must be made. It's too easy being angry at (Turkish PM Recep Tayyip) Erdogan, but it would be wise to reconcile with him. He is a fair mediator. We need negotiations with Turkish mediation."


Olmert further added, "There were other people in the world whose statements we didn't like, but we acted to calm matters and not inflame them. I kept weekly contact with the Jordanian king so results will be reached. I made an effort to hold relations with the Russian government too. I am pleased that the prime minister is going there today."


"Contrary to the state of mind one is attempting to impose on the public, a political move to bring about peace is not a dream. It's essential and urgent," Olmert said. He also criticized Netanyahu's policy regarding the settlement freeze by saying "In my time, also during negotiations there was construction in the territories. It was no secret that building was going on here and there in the territories. I told all parties that I will not discuss this, because if I would I won't be able to engage in serious negotiations."


In respect to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the former prime minister said. "I gave the elected Palestinian leader an offer that I think was not made in the past and will not be made in the future. If there's any chance for a settlement, it's on the basis of what I offered and they must respond to it so we can complete what we nearly finished."


Olmert also addressed the Second Lebanon War and claimed it was "the most proportional war, handled in the most correct way and brought unparalleled peace for four years." Regarding captive soldier Gilad Shalit the former prime minister said, "We made a far-reaching offer."


Withdrawal from territories

Olmert further stated, "I said as early as 2003 that we would have to withdraw from most territories, including Jerusalem. It was after I reached the conclusion that in choosing between the greater Land of Israel and a Jewish, democratic state, I prefer the latter. Whoever says there is another alternative is giving the wrong impression.


"One day, earlier than we think, we shall find ourselves opposite a global unified front which will try to force us to solidify the reality in which we have lived for 42 years with an equal voting right. There is no other choice but to reach the solution I suggested."


Referring to concessions in Jerusalem, the former prime minister explained that "as one who was its mayor and experienced its hardships and difficulties, I knew that if we wanted peace and security we must make a concession, with the Jewish territory at our hands and the Arab parts in the hands of the Palestinian Authority.


"The statements were officially pronounced. The holy sites should be controlled by a group of five states, including Israel."


He further noted that the security demands were presented to the US administration and were approved by the president.


פרסום ראשון: 02.14.10, 22:08
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