Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does not deserve to remain prime minister and will not form the next government, former prime minister Ehud Olmert said Thursday in an interview with The Jerusalem Post.
While former prime minister Ehud Barak and former IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi both gave up efforts to form the political bonds that they believe are necessary to defeat Netanyahu, Olmert said he still believes parties in the Center and Left can stop Netanyahu from building a coalition after the April 9 election.
“The parties that are battling against him, including Israel Resilience, Yesh Atid, Labor, Meretz, Hatnua and the Arab parties, may not have a majority to form together a coalition or a political bloc prior to the election but I believe they will have enough seats in order to block the possible creation of a government led by Netanyahu,” Olmert said.
Olmert, who won the 2006 election in which Netanyahu led Likud to only 12 seats, predicted Likud voters would give the party less support than currently anticipated.
“Most of the Likud voters believe in the legal system of Israel,” Olmert said. “They believe that fundamental values of public integrity and modesty must be protected, and while many prefer a policy closer to what the Likud once supported, they are not ready to sacrifice these basic values for the division, polarization and insults to political rivals manifested by Netanyahu. I know these voters. I meet them in the street, cafes, restaurants, cinemas, sports arenas, and I have a strong feeling that the outcome of the elections will be different from the prophesies of many of the commentators whose lack of objectivity and whose bias is quite obvious.”
Olmert warned of an “increasingly strong feeling of distaste spreading across the country” due to Netanyahu’s handling of his criminal cases, for which he said Netanyahu advanced the elections “in order to save himself from the attorney-general’s inevitable decisions.”
“I definitely wish Netanyahu to be spared from the terrible and demanding challenge of facing legal proceedings,” said Olmert, who went to prison on bribery charges. “Knowing him and his mental weaknesses, I definitely would not wish him to have to cope with it. But what he’s doing on a daily basis to intimidate the attorney-general, police and courts is unforgivable and unacceptable. This is good enough reason to demand his immediate resignation.”
Olmert warned that the efforts Netanyahu is making to deter Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit and the police from doing their jobs is “a threat to the basic stability of the most essential institutions for the well-being of our country.”
“In my most difficult times as prime minister, even when I was absolutely certain that I wasn’t treated properly and honestly by the law enforcement agencies, never did I say one word against any of them, because the superiority of the law was more important to me than my political survivability,” Olmert said. “I was a victim of injustice to the best of my judgment, but the stability of our system and the integrity of the law enforcement agencies was more important than my political career.”
Olmert accused Netanyahu of misusing his Defense and Foreign portfolios for his own political gain. He also singled out Netanyahu’s wife, Sara, and son, Yair.
“We are witnessing one of the most spectacular political campaigns conducted by a person, his wife and one of his children, which breaks all the rules of decency that characterized the basic values of our society since the proclamation of the State of Israel,” he said. “The country is being held under siege by a man and his family who are ready to sacrifice the basic rules of protecting the most sensitive information of our military engagements, of using soldiers of the most elite units of the army as a background for political and party campaigns, of using the sensitive foreign relations of Israel with countries that might possibly become friendly to Israel in the future but which are compromised by the exposure of their contacts with Israel for the sake of the political needs of the prime minister.”
Olmert also criticized Netanyahu’s recent threatening statements against Iran and other potential adversaries of Israel, saying they may lead into unnecessary military engagements that could cause damage to Israel.
“The fact that the prime minister is prepared to call everyone who does not agree with his policies of arrogance and shallow threats with regard to the situation in Syria a ‘traitor’ or label them as ‘weak’ and a ‘danger to Israel’s security’ is ridiculous,” Olmert said.
Olmert reacted to Netanyahu’s recent attacks on former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz
and other political opponents by saying “it’s completely outrageous that a person who has spent most of his life in planes, yachts and cocktail parties around the world can call some of the greatest heroes of Israel a danger to our security.”
Reacting to Netanyahu taking credit for a strike in Syria
this week, Olmert reminded Israelis that he acted differently.
“I ordered the destruction of the atomic reactor in Syria, which was an immediate danger to Israel but didn’t say a public word about it for more than 10 years
,” he said. “Netanyahu threatened to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities and Hamas if they continued to shoot rockets at Israel. But he didn’t have the courage to actually accomplish what he promised, because he wastes the energy, resources, trust and goodwill of our people for his political interests. He will be punished.”
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