Olmert spoke Monday at a news conference in Jerusalem for foreign journalists. “I have not changed my mind over the past few days regarding the ‘convergence’ plan and I am determined to continue on my road to the ultimate separation from the Palestinians and to attain secure borders that will be recognized by the international community,” he said.
Olmert acknowledged that Israelis have not had one day of quiet since the Disengagement from Gaza in August 2005 in which nearly 8,000 Jews were expelled from their homes. “There has been no occupation in Gaza since August last year,” he said, “and since then there hasn’t been one day of quiet for the citizens of Israel.”
The prime minister added that Arab terrorists in Gaza have been trying to kill innocent Israeli citizens every day. He noted the violence that resulted in the capture of IDF Corporal Gilad Shalit on June 25 has only exacerbated the situation.
He said, not for the first time, that the Hamas government is responsible for the terrorists who continue to hold Shalit hostage. He emphasized that Israel has no desire to topple the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority government, but does indeed intend to take the steps necessary to “prevent terrorists from inflicting terrorism on the Israeli people.”
Olmert added, "We want to separate in a friendly manner and to live alongside each other in a peaceful way,” but said that if "the terrorist organizations impose a violent confrontation, both Israelis and the Palestinians will have to bear the consequences."
Regardless of the continuing onslaught of Kassam rocket attacks on southern Israeli Jewish communities and the kidnapping of Corp. Shalit, Olmert said nothing would hold back the second expulsion. It is slated to begin shortly, beginning with small outposts in Judea and Samaria.
“It won’t stop the inevitable process of separation of Israelis and Palestinians,” he said.
With regard to reports by the Arab press that Israel has agreed to a prisoner swap with the terrorists in order to secure Shalit’s release, Olmert firmly denied the stories, saying Israel will not negotiation with terrorists. “I will not release prisoners to Hamas as a trade for Corporal Gilad Shalit,” he said.
Military operations in Gaza have gradually increased since the IDF began its incursion three days after Shalit’s capture. The army and air force have focused their efforts on preventing the terrorists from transporting Shalit out of Gaza, and on destroying the terrorist organizations and infrastructure as a means of reducing the number of rocket attacks on Israel.