Olmert: Israel should jump at Arab peace initiative

Former PM tells Channel 10 the recent Arab League peace overtures are "historic"; downplays the "exaggerated" Iranian threat.

Olmert JPost conference 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Olmert JPost conference 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert discussed the importance of taking immediate action in response to the recent Arab League peace overtures, while also addressing the Iran nuclear threat and Hezbollah's possible ownership of chemical weapons, in Channel 10 interview aired Wednesday.
"I think we cannot, under any condition, pass up on any possibility that will lead to a return to peace talks," Olmert said. "It's a historic opportunity that the Knesset cannot afford to miss."
Olmert also called on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, with whom he has had numerous differences of opinion over the years, to "lead Israel to peace talks and stop looking for excuses."
In a speech at this week's Jerusalem Post Conference, Olmert called Netanyahu's 'red line' warnings about Iran an 'exaggeration,' and claimed that Iran will not be a real threat in the next five years. This speech has made him the target of wide spread criticism to which he responded in the interview.
"A year ago we said if we didn't act immediately, Iran will cross the red line and we will lose the option of an attack. Now we have changed the red line so it looks like we were blowing things out of proportion," Olmert said. He continued by commending the "amazing diplomatic successes" Israel has made in the past to slow down the Iranian race to reach nuclear capabilities.
While he stood strong on the Iran issue, Olmert conceded that there is a legitimate worry that Hezbollah has received chemical weapons and said that if the reports ever become official, Israel should respond with a "swift and accurate strike" to neutralize the threat.
Though Olmert has been absent from the Israeli political scene in recent years, he promised that his career is not finished. "I won't leave the public life, you will continue to hear from me I promise you," he said at the end of the interview.