Olmert slammed for bungling Hamas win

Labor: Olmert's weakness harming opportunities to reach an agreement.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
February 18, 2006 21:55
2 minute read.
bibi netanyahu 88

bibi netanyahu 88. (photo credit: )

 
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Politicians from across the political spectrum attacked Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert from all sides on Saturday, accusing him of mishandling the Palestinian Authority and allowing Hamas to take power unnecessarily. The Likud released a statement calling Olmert "smolmert," incorporating the Hebrew word for "Left" into his name. Party officials said that since taking over for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Olmert has handled Hamas with mistakes and zigzags. Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Yuval Steinitz said that Israel should have prevented the Palestinian parliament from convening on Saturday in Ramallah and hinted that Sharon would have acted differently had he still been in charge. "Just like Sharon kept Yasser Arafat under siege in Ramallah even thought he was the democratically elected Palestinian president, Olmert could have done the same with the elected Hamas leaders and put them under siege in their homes to prevent them from entering Ramallah for the Hamas parliament meeting," Steinitz said. Steinitz said that Israel should have prevented the Palestinian election from taking place and allowing Hamas to come to power. He said that Israel could have relied on the Oslo accord, which forbid the participation of terrorist groups in Palestinian elections. "The establishment of the PA and its parliament was based on Arafat's recognition of Israel's right to exist," Steinitz said. "Hamas taking power is a terrible disaster for Israel and the peace process. The Palestinians established a parliament aimed at Israel's destruction that supports terror and officially opposes peaceful coexistence." Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman called upon the government to close the crossings from the Gaza Strip and stop supplying electricity and telephone service to the strip. "We cannot forget that Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is acting as a Trojan Horse of the Hamas to reach out to the Free World," Lieberman said. Politicians on the Left praised Abbas for reaching out to Israel in his speech to the Palestinian parliament. They attacked Olmert for not taking steps to strengthen Abbas before the election and urged him to start negotiations with Abbas immediately. "Olmert's lack of decisiveness is harming opportunities to reach a brave diplomatic agreement with Abbas," a Labor spokesman said. "Olmert's weakness has been revealed in his handling of the Hamas. He has adopted the approach of the extreme Right with his plan to starve the Palestinian people, which will encourage the extremists to commit terrorist attacks and endanger the security of the people of Israel." Meretz leader Yossi Beilin said that Israel can bypass Hamas by negotiating with Abbas as the Palestinian president and the head of the Palestine Liberation Organization. "Israel made a mistake when it weakened the PA and Abu Mazen over the past few years, and it would repeat its mistake if it decides to withhold funding from the PA," Beilin said.

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