Olmert: land for peace
NY Times reporting an extraordinary interview with the out-going Israeli PM:
“What I am saying to you now has not been said by any Israeli leader before me,” Mr. Olmert told Yediot Aharonot newspaper in the interview to mark the Jewish new year that runs from Monday night till Wednesday night. “The time has come to say these things.”
He said traditional Israeli defense strategists had learned nothing from past experiences and seemed stuck in the considerations of the 1948 Independence War.
“With them, it is all about tanks and land and controlling territories and controlled territories and this hilltop and that hilltop,” he said. “All these things are worthless.”
He added, “Who thinks seriously that if we sit on another hilltop, on another hundred meters, that this is what will make the difference for the State of Israel’s basic security?”
This is a radical change and much closer to what the Palestinians would accept (excl. right-of-return).
Israel must withdraw from nearly all the West Bank as well as East Jerusalem to attain peace with the Palestinians and that any occupied land it held onto would have to be exchanged for the same quantity of Israeli territory.
On peace with the Palestinians, Mr. Olmert said in the interview: “We face the need to decide but are not willing to tell ourselves, yes, this is what we have to do. We have to reach an agreement with the Palestinians, the meaning of which is that in practice we will withdraw from almost all the territories, if not all the territories. We will leave a percentage of these territories in our hands, but will have to give the Palestinians a similar percentage, because without that there will be no peace.”
He also dismissed as “megalomania” any thought that Israel would or should attack Iran on its own to stop it from developing nuclear weapons, saying the international community and not Israel alone was charged with handling the issue.
In an unusually frank and soul-searching interview granted after he resigned to fight corruption charges — he remains interim prime minister until a new government is sworn in — Mr. Olmert discarded longstanding Israeli defense doctrine and called for radical new thinking in words that are sure to stir controversy as his expected successor, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, tries to build a coalition.
Pity they only have the courage to say these things once their time is over.