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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Wednesday that he won't wait years for Hamas to recognize Israel, a precondition for peace talks, and that he is prepared to take unilateral steps in the meantime.
"We waited a reasonable time. If we see there is no reasonable chance (for a resumption of talks) we will take our fate in our own hands," Olmert said in a pre-election interview with Israel TV's Channel 10.
Olmert rejected the idea of putting his plan before a referendum when it is finalized. "The referendum is this Tuesday," election day, he said. "The whole political spectrum agrees with this. So I don't think we have to develop this idea of referendums."
"Only parties that would support this new agenda will be part our coalition," he said.
Olmert has said he wants to draw Israel's borders by 2010, by completing the construction of Israel's West Bank barrier, withdrawing from large parts of the West Bank and dismantling Jewish settlements.
In the interview, Olmert said Israelis "must take our fate in our hands," drawing Israel's own borders if there is no possibility of talks with the Palestinians.
"We have to solve the problem ourselves, not to become a hostage to the Palestinians and decide when things will happen and what will happen," he said.
Asked for his response if Hamas changes its policy and recognizes Israel, Olmert said that if the representatives of the Palestinian people fulfill all of their obligations and stop terrorism, "then we will negotiate with the representatives of the Palestinian Authority."
Olmert said he would prefer negotiations to unilateral actions. "We are prepared to fix borders that are different from the ones we have today. so there is plenty to talk about," he said, while rejecting the key Palestinian demand to withdraw from all of the West Bank.