PM: Hamas will lose ability to hit us

PM threatens tough response to Negev attack; on peace talks, says: No one can preach to us on J'lem.

Olmert big head 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Olmert big head 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
A day after three Israelis were killed by terrorists in the South, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert upgraded his threats against Hamas and vowed to take action that would incapacitate the Islamist organization. Speaking at a pre-Pessah toast for Kadima activists at the party's Petah Tikva headquarters, Olmert said Hamas would be held accountable for every infiltration, shooting and rocket attack in the South, no matter which terrorist organization claimed responsibility. It was "inevitable" that Hamas would pay the price for its terror attacks, he said. "I promise you that the response to Hamas will be such that Hamas will no longer be able to continue to take action against the citizens of Israel," Olmert told the crowd. "I don't want to say more than that. But what I am saying will obligate Israel [to act], and I promise you that it will be properly implemented." In a toast with Labor activists at his party's Tel Aviv headquarters, Defense Minister Ehud Barak also pledged to fight Hamas. "We will restore security to Sderot and the Gaza periphery," he said. Olmert recounted an emotional meeting on Wednesday night with the father of St.-Sgt. Sayef Bisan at the family's home in the Druse village of Jatt, near Acre. He praised the bravery of Bisan, who served in the Golani Brigade's Egoz reconnaissance unit and was killed in action in Gaza early that morning. While the prime minister said he believed an agreement could be reached with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas this year, he said that due to the situation in the PA and Hamas's control of Gaza, no such deal could be implemented any time soon. "I don't see any chance of implementing an agreement in the near future," Olmert said. "When we reach an understanding, we will insist on all their obligations in the road map being met, especially stopping terror, as a condition for implementing the agreement." Ynet reported from Palestinian sources Thursday that Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and PA negotiator Ahmed Qurei were considering a proposal whereby the final-status negotiations on the issues of Jerusalem and refugees would be postponed for five years. According to the report, the deal would be a temporary one, valid for five years, during which the PA would be granted some municipal sovereignty in the capital and would be allowed to provide certain services to the Palestinian residents of the city. Olmert's and Livni's spokespeople declined to respond to the report, but Olmert defended himself when politicians on the Right blasted him on the Jerusalem issue. "There is no important issue that we are not ready to discuss, Olmert said. "But we don't need lessons from anyone, especially not our adversaries in the opposition, on what the important matters are that we must safeguard. No one can teach me or the Kadima ministers about the importance and the symbolism of Jerusalem for the people of Israel." Bar-Ilan University's Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies commissioned a poll about the negotiations over Jerusalem ahead of a symposium the center will host on Tuesday about the future of the capital. Fifty-nine percent of Israelis believe that Jerusalem's fate is currently being negotiated, despite the government's denials, according to the survey - and 71% of Israelis are unwilling to give up control of the Old City and the Temple Mount, even for complete peace. Shas chairman Eli Yishai will address the symposium and explain why he is staying in the coalition despite the reported negotiations on Jerusalem's fate - talks Shas has said would prompt its departure from the government. The coalition received a boost Thursday night when Pensioners Party MK Elhanan Glazer showed up at the Kadima event and vowed to remain in the coalition. He denied reports that he would split off from his faction with two other MKs and join billionaire Arkadi Gaydamak's new Social Justice Party. Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik spoke at the event and praised Olmert for surviving despite premature political eulogies. Activists at the event noted that at last year's pre-Pessah toast, Olmert gave a speech about how unpopular he was. A children's choir from Petah Tikva opened the colorful event with a medley of songs praising Israel and Olmert, including one unlikely choice: a hassidic song whose chorus is "moshiach, moshiach, moshiach" (messiah, messiah, messiah). Rebecca Anna Stoil contributed to this report.