Olmert defends Annapolis peace process

Former PM outlines his legacy and hints at eventual political comeback; Livni compares herself to Moses.

Livni Olmert 298.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Livni Olmert 298.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Former prime minister Ehud Olmert took steps to leave behind a positive legacy on Thursday when he praised the Annapolis peace process at a Kadima event that paid tribute to him at the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds. Olmert's statements came a day after Israel Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman told the world in his first speech as foreign minister that the Annapolis process was no longer valid. "I don't remember in the 60 years of the state of Israel any gathering in which on one stage there were leaders from Israel, the Palestinians, the US and foreign ministers from all the Arab countries," Olmert said of the Annapolis conference in 2007. "That can't just be erased. It was the entire Arab world saying that Israel was a fait accompli that cannot be erased or destroyed." Olmert said Israel received unprecedented international support during his tenure and warned that it would pay a heavy price if it abandoned the Annapolis process. Although he repeatedly praised Kadima leader Tzipi Livni, who served as his foreign minister, Olmert hinted that he could eventually make a political comeback. He said the gathering would be his "last public event for a long time," but that he would be present at Kadima's victory party when it returned to power. Prior to Olmert's speech, Livni praised him, hinting at air strikes in Syria and Sudan that the foreign press has reported that Olmert authorized. "No one can take away from you the things that are known and the things that will be known in the future," Livni said. Livni criticized Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's government, which she referred to as "that strange thing the Knesset approved two days ago." She also praised herself for deciding to remain outside the coalition, saying that "no one gave us a mandate to bury hope in this government." Referring to the upcoming Pessah holiday, Livni compared herself to Moses and the opposition to the Israelites in the desert. "On Pessah, we celebrate the Jewish people following proper leadership in the desert," Livni said. "The leadership spoke to the people and taught them about their basic values." Coalition chairman Ze'ev Elkin responded that Moses, unlike Livni, was known for his modesty. He added that Livni would parch in the desert of the opposition for a long time.