olmert haifa 298 88.
(photo credit: GPO)
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert waged a spirited defense of the war in Lebanon in an interview with The Jerusalem Post, saying that even though Israel had no answer to the short-range missiles that rained down on the North, Israel's strategic deterrence was not harmed.
"Everyone understands that this is something that has to be dealt with," Olmert said of the short-range Katyushas and Kassam rocket threats. "It will be dealt with, we will find a technological answer, and once a technological answer is found we will be done with it. So it is just a matter of time. It is true that in the meantime it is a major nuisance, but it is not a strategic threat to the State of Israel."
Olmert, in the interview that will be published in its entirety in Friday's edition of the Post, said it was a mistake to focus on the short-range missile threat, and that the IAF's ability to take out the long-range missiles, which it did in the first few hours of the war, was of greater significance "in terms of the degree of threat that the Arabs feel they can impose on Israel."
Regarding the widespread perception in the Arab world that Hizbullah won the war, Olmert said he had "a different perception of what their view is of Israel, based on knowledge from what I read and see."
He said that the perception that Hizbullah emerged with a victory was "one of the most dangerous perceptions," but that it was generated "entirely, completely, wholeheartedly here, not there, only because of political considerations, only because of a total lack of proportion. These perceptions are created here and they are spread from here to the outside."
As to the abducted soldiers, Olmert would not discuss whether he would be willing to release Fatah-Tanzim leader Marwan Barghouti in a deal to free Cpl. Gilad Shalit, but said that Barghouti was not one of the prisoners he had considered releasing before Shalit's abduction.
Olmert also would not say categorically that he would not release Samir Kuntar in a deal involving Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. Kuntar, the longest-serving confirmed Lebanese prisoner in jail in Israel, is serving multiple life terms for the killing of three members of the Haran family and policeman Eliahu Shahar in a raid on Nahariya in 1979.