Olmert: Israel must cede parts of Jerusalem, return to 1967 border
Jerusalem – Israeli caretaker prime minister Ehud Olmert said Monday that Israel must cede parts of Jerusalem as part of a peace deal with the Palestinians.
‘If we are determined to preserve the Jewish and democratic character of the State of Israel, we must inevitably relinquish, with great pain, parts of our homeland, of which we dreamt and for which we yearned and prayed for generations,’ Olmert told a memorial service on Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl, marking 13 years according to the Hebrew calendar since the assassination of late Israeli premier Yitzhak Rabin.
‘And we must relinquish Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem and return to that territory which comprised the State of Israel until 1967, with the necessary amendments stemming from the realities created on ground,’ he added.
Olmert, who resigned late September amidÂ corruptionÂ allegations and continues to head a transitional government until early elections are held on February 10, urged his future successor to avoid postponing a peace deal with the Palestinians.
Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, the new leader of Olmert’s centrist KadimaÂ party, and former hawkish premier Benjamin Netanyahu of the opposition Likud party, are the two leading contenders.
‘If, God forbid, we drag our feet, we might lose the support for the idea of two states. The alternative is incomprehensible. Everyone understands it,’ Olmert warned.
Referring to the Islamic Hamas movement, which refuses to recognize Israel, he urged: ‘A new regime may take control of the Palestinian territories and be radical and not open to the negotiation process.’
‘The moment of truth has come, and there is no escaping it. We can miss it, we can postpone it, at a heavy price, for many more years of bloodshed and unending agonies.’
Addressing a special session of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, later Monday, Olmert vowed to continue peace negotiations with the Palestinians and Syria during his final months in office ‘as part of a genuine effort to reach an agreement, or at least establish its foundations, so that it cannot be evaded in the future.’
He was defying critics who have protested that as a caretaker prime minister he lacks legitimacy to make binding concessions.
Those critics have included the opposition Likud, which is trying to push through a bill that would make it illegal for transitional governments to conduct peace negotiations.
But even Livni and Defence Minister Ehud Barak, of the coalition Labour Party, have argued that while he can continue talks according to their current format with the Palestinians and Syrians to keep the process going, it would be ‘immoral’ for Olmert to sign any deals.
The White House admitted late last week that it was unlikely Israel and the Palestinians would meet their end-of-year deadline for reaching a peace deal. The negotiations with Syria, resumed in the spring for the first time since they broke off in 2000, are in their preliminary stage and held indirectly under Turkish mediation.
Although former premier Barak negotiated Jerusalem in the botched 2000 Camp David peace summit with late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, Olmert in a newspaper interview given earlier this autumn became the first Israeli premier to publicly state Israel should give up part of Jerusalem for peace.
He himself however has thus far declined to put Jerusalem on the table in his talks with Abbas, proposing instead to reach a deal that would postpone a settlement of the highly sensitive issue.
Abbas has rejected that offer, insisting on a ‘comprehensive agreement’ that deals with all of the core issues of the Israeli- Palestinian conflict, including Jerusalem.
The Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Rabin was assassinated on November 4, 1995 by a right-wing fanatic Jew opposed to his peace moves with the Palestinians.
|PM Olmert’s Political Speech at the Special Knesset Session Marking Thirteen Years Since the Murder of PM Yitzhak Rabin|
|Dr. Aaron Lerner – IMRA:
“I will defend your right to agree with me”
And so, Ehud Olmert, in his possibly his last speech before leaving theÂ
“Yitzhak Rabin was murdered 13 years ago as a result of a methodicalÂ
Since he apparently didn’t mean Avishai Raviv and the shabbak campaign ofÂ
“The Government will continue to strengthen the country’s borders, to readyÂ
PM Olmert’s Speech at the Special Knesset Session Marking Thirteen YearsÂ
Madam Speaker of the Knesset, Dalia Itzik,
Every year we return to the Knesset in order to make proclamations inÂ
I do not intend to stand at this podium many more times, but while I amÂ
Yitzhak Rabin was murdered 13 years ago as a result of a methodical campaignÂ
Shortly after Rabin’s murder, Haim Guri, the late Prime Minister’s friendÂ
Unfortunately, Guri’s hope has yet to be realized. Today, 13 years later,Â
Young Israelis, gripped by messianic dreams which have no basis in theÂ
I say these difficult words not just to other people, but also to us, to theÂ
We stand here using grandiose words about what was and can never happenÂ
There is no political consideration or temporary convenience that canÂ
Thirteen years ago, the late Yitzhak Rabin, along with Shimon Peres and aÂ
Since that time, after having learned to live with the feelings of guilt andÂ
This decision will be difficult and painful and will intensify the internalÂ
Whoever thinks and believes that he can avoid the decision while at the sameÂ
I am convinced that we have no realistic option other than an internalÂ
This is the time to appeal to that public and say: you are unparalleled inÂ
I am not criticizing anybody nor am I preaching. I do not have the right toÂ
Not due to conflict and strife, not due to the rift which will tear the mostÂ
I see you before me – Dalia, Yuval, Rachel and the entire family. You doÂ
You are here, we are here, the people of Israel are here – in order to learnÂ
I am bound by this command – every day, until the final day of thisÂ
This is how I honor the late Yitzhak Rabin – and so will the Government ofÂ