"I'm the last one who would say that the statements made by Turkish prime ministers and chief representatives over the last two years and the last few days are music to my ears," said Olmert whose term as prime minister saw relations between Israel and Turkey flourish.
Olmert at Conference on Regional Cooperation (Photo: Eli Elgart)
"But based on my personal and intimate acquaintance with this leadership, I would like to say – it isn't automatically and necessarily an enemy of Israel. Over the years we have succeeded in building a relationship with Turkey that we, across the political map, have defined as relations of the utmost strategic importance to Israel," Olmert added.
"Turkey is not Israel's enemy and Israel is not Turkey's enemy. Turkey has previously functioned as a bridge to important and sensitive contacts of the highest importance to our interests, and it can continue to be so in the future."
The former prime minister also touched upon the Palestinian peace process, noting that the most important mission in promoting regional cooperation is resuming the political process with the Palestinians. "I know the Palestinian leadership… I know Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad," said Olmert.
He then added: "Gentlemen, there will not be a Palestinian leadership who wants peace more than the current leadership. Peace on terms that may be difficult and painful to most of us, peace that will involve concessions, the thought of which shocks us all, but they want peace."
Olmert also mentioned how moved he was by Saturday night's mass-protests: "It was impossible to remain unmoved, seeing the people converging throughout the country and symbolically in Tel Aviv, at the State Square making their voices heard in a restrained and responsible way."
Olmert's trial and that of his bureau chief Shula Zaken is set to resume on Monday at the Jerusalem District Court with the defense presenting its witnesses.
Aviad Glickman contributed to the report
- Follow Ynetnews on Facebook
- Receive Ynetnews updates
directly to your desktop