Olmert speaks at Saban Forum in Washington 370.
(photo credit: Screenshot Brookings Institute )
The government’s approval of 3,000 new housing units in Jerusalem, Judea and
Samaria was a slap in the face of US President Barack Obama, former prime
minister Ehud Olmert said at the Saban Forum in Washington on Saturday
During a conversation hosted by David Ignatius, associate editor
and columnist at The Washington Post, Olmert said Israel could not have made a
more counterproductive move.
“This is the worst slap in the face of a US
president,” he said.
He accused Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s
government of showing its “gratitude” to Obama for opposing the Palestinian
statehood bid at the UN General Assembly on Thursday by giving the green light
for the construction of 3,000 housing units beyond the Green Line.
criticized the government’s conduct over the UN General Assembly vote which
recognized Palestine as a non-member state, saying that had Israel spoken with
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, the unilateral bid could have
He charged that the government was “not being dedicated to the peace process in a realistic way that will bring
He asserted that the current regime and its policies must be
changed, stressing that he would do everything he could to change the
“The government must be replaced,” he declared.
not a Palestinian patriot, I’m an Israeli patriot,” he said. “Time is
running out not for the Palestinians – for Israel. And the sooner we
reach an agreement that would determine that there are two states, for two
nationalities, for two peoples, the better it is for Israel.”
lashed out at the Palestinians, saying they had missed every opportunity to
reach a peace agreement with Israel and that former PA leader Yasser Arafat had
not been a genuine partner for peace, contrary to Abbas.
Olmert about his possible return to politics; Olmert refused to provide any
“I’m running, I run 11 kilometers every day,” he
He said he would make an announcement when he was back in
Israel, rather than in the US.
“In any event, I am going to make a
statement or an announcement to the public when I’m in Israel,” he said. “I
don’t think it will be appropriate to make any announcement while I’m here. I
don’t think it’s proper, I don’t think it’s the right way to do it.
the way, I think the same about American relations,” he added, referring to
Sheldon Adelson’s support for Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney. “I
don’t think that the right way to make announcements about American politics or
to raise funds for American politics is to bring American voters to Israel in
order to raise funds for an American presidency.” Romney and Adelson traveled to
Israel in July in a much publicized fund-raising trip ahead of the US
He said he would be very active in the January 22 election
campaign, and “what exactly I will do will be made clear in a very short
Discussing his own efforts to make peace with Abbas in 2008,
Olmert said that agreeing to concessions on Jerusalem was “the most difficult
moment” of his life.
“It was very very painful,” Olmert told Ignatius,
“and yet I knew there was no alternative.”
“If you want to make peace you
have to be ready to make tough decisions – this is what you were elected for,”
Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar on Sunday slammed as
“scandalous” the critical comments about the government made by Olmert and Tzipi
Livni at the Saban Forum in Washington over the weekend.
Livni, who recently announced her new Tzipi Livni Party, both criticized the
government for its decision to approve 3,000 new units in Jerusalem and the West
“This is irresponsible behavior on the part of members of the
opposition such as Olmert, after the hate speech against Israel at the United
Nations,” Sa’ar told Channel 10.
Sa’ar branded their behavior as
“outrageous and irresponsible,” adding “this shows why they should stay out of