Ehud Olmert speaking at the Hebrew University, January 6, 2014..
(photo credit: Sason Tiram)
Former prime minister Ehud Olmert insinuated on Monday that his successor,
Binyamin Netanyahu, was an “idiot” and that his predecessor, Ariel Sharon,
became revered only after lapsing into a coma.
“In times of peace, even
an idiotic prime minister can come out looking good,” he said during a lecture
at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem on Monday. “Of course, a tembel [idiot]
prime minister cannot make peace, and if he makes peace he’s not an
After the audience laughed at his veiled tongue-in-cheek
reference to Prime Minister Netanyahu, Olmert was quick to backtrack and added,
“I mean that only generally, of course. Really!” The Prime Minister’s Office
declined to respond to Olmert’s comments.
Olmert made the reference while
trying to explain the difference between a prime minister’s reputation in a time
of war versus in a time of peace, in a lecture titled “Media Challenges of Prime
Ministers in Times of War and Terror.”
He spoke as former prime minister
Sharon’s medical condition turned critical
and friends and family members feared
his impending death.
Olmert, who took over the premiership when Sharon
had a cerebral hemorrhage on January 4, 2006, acknowledged the outpouring of
sympathy for the former prime minister.
“Today, there is an
understandable sense of empathy and sympathy toward what he and his family are
going through. This eight-year-long saga of his kids visiting him every day is a
humanitarian story,” Olmert said.
His sympathy, however, was undercut by
his claim that the public began to revere Sharon only after he fell into a
“When did the [public] begin to love Sharon? When he fell into a
While much of Olmert’s speech was devoted to lessons learned
through media coverage during the Second Lebanon War, he also took the time to
discuss the current peace process.
He asserted that peace with the
Palestinians is not only of the utmost importance, it is also extremely possible
– “if we carry out a peace deal. But it’s not up to me, it’s up to the current
“The entire Middle East landscape will change, as well as
Israel’s standing in the region. If we’ll make peace with the Palestinians, it
will cause a surge of change that will alter the entire region.
become the center of the Middle East and people will invest academically and
economically in us. The region will be much more successful and stable if the
peace deal happens,” the former prime minister said.
Olmert also defended
his leadership during the controversial Second Lebanon War. While acknowledging
the criticism of Israel’s conduct during that war, Olmert said, “Ever since that
war, we haven’t experienced this much quiet along the Lebanese border. We’ve had
seven-and-a-half years without retaliation from Hezbollah.”
his own personal friendship with Secretary of State John Kerry, Olmert said that
he supports Kerry’s tireless efforts to broker peace with the Palestinians and
agreed with Kerry’s stance that it is possible to forge a deal, now, that
ensures Israel’s security and maintains its status as both a Jewish and