Olmert criticized for slamming Netanyahu abroad

Former PM says Israel's "rhetoric of confrontation and war" was unwise, gov't erred ignoring Rouhani's talk of peace.

Olmert, Netanyahu 370 (photo credit: Moti Milrod/Haaretz/Reuters)
Olmert, Netanyahu 370
(photo credit: Moti Milrod/Haaretz/Reuters)
Former prime minister Ehud Olmert crossed a red line when he derided his successor, Binyamin Netanyahu, in a speech to students at Dartmouth University in New Hampshire last Tuesday, Regional Cooperation Minister Silvan Shalom said on Sunday.
He told Israel Radio that Olmert should honor the tradition that politicians do not criticize their leaders when abroad. Olmert has broken that tradition at the last two annual conferences of The Jerusalem Post in New York.
“He did something that is not done,” Shalom said.
“There is a comfortable consensus on Iran in Israel.”
Former chairman of the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria, and the Gaza Strip Dani Dayan said “Olmert’s custom of attacking Netanyahu from the United States is disgusting.”
In a video of the speech published on the blog of Haaretz diplomatic correspondent Barak Ravid, Olmert said Netanyahu’s “rhetoric of confrontation and war” was “not smart,” and that the current government erred in “ignoring the signs from the president of Iran, who talks of peace with the West.”
“If [Iran] is serious, why not end this conflict with an agreement rather than with the use of force?” Olmert said.
“We may come at the end of the day to the conclusion that nothing else will help. But until then we owe it to ourselves and to the stability of the world to check how serious the Iranians are and whether they are prepared to change their strategies and policies and refrain from obtaining a nuclear capacity that we will not tolerate, the West will not tolerate and America will not tolerate.”
Olmert said he wholeheartedly supported Obama’s efforts to test Iran’s seriousness in reaching a resolution regarding its nuclear program.
The former premier addressed the ongoing diplomatic row between Washington and Jerusalem, seeming to mock the Netanyahu government’s response to American intentions to strike an interim agreement with Tehran.
“I heard that the secretary of state of the United States, John Kerry dared to disagree with the prime minister of Israel,” Olmert said. “Poor guy. I hope he’ll be all right.”
As an aside when describing his good relations with former president George W.
Bush’s administration, Olmert said: “It’s not too bad to be friends with the president of the United States if you can. You don’t have to look for a reason to alienate him, provoke him or insult him. I give this as general advice to anyone who wants to be president of a country that is not America.”
Even though Olmert said repeatedly that Israel needed to make peace immediately, he was briefly heckled by a very small group of anti-Israel activists who were laughed at by the crowd. A member of the crowd said afterward that the protesters were not taken seriously and that their catcalls resulted in greater sympathy for Olmert and support for Israel.