Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s declaration Thursday that he is willing to do “anything possible” to attain peace may lead Arab nations to believe Israel is willing to compromise on defensible borders, according to Knesset Member Yuval Shteinitz, former Chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
Olmert said during a speech to national service volunteers in Tel Aviv Thursday that the 2002 Saudi proposal for Israeli concessions - which was rejected outright at the time by the Israeli government - was “interesting,” and that the plan could be used as a springboard for new talks. He added that Israel is willing to make “sweeping, painful and difficult concessions” in exchange for peace with its Arab neighbors.
“This government will not miss an opportunity to dialogue with its enemies and will do anything possible… to push this process forward,” asserted Olmert.
Shteinitz, a leading defense expert, cited Olmert's remarks as another example of the "weakness and limpness" of the current government. He also noted that Olmert's acceptance of the Saudi plan as a basis of negotiations could be interpreted as an Israeli agreement to retreat to the '67 borders as a starting point in a negotiating process.
"When you mention the other side's plan and add 'all is open for negotiation,' it means that you are not going to stand firm on defensible borders in the Golan Heights or in Judea and Samaria," he pointed out.
Shteinitz said that he doesn't recall another case in modern history in which one side accepted the territorial demands of the other side before dialogue even started.
Olmert's policy is reminiscent of the mad dash of Ehud Barak in the last months of his administration, he said: "Barak attempted to save his own skin by offering far-reaching concessions, including the surrender of all of Judea and Samaria and the division of Jerusalem which would thereby cause its destruction, and even lands from the Negev desert."
Shteinitz charged that Olmert's weakness is driving him to offer similar concessions in order to gain political support from the Israeli left. "Olmert is liable to lead Israel to the brink of disaster and to situations that will endanger its very existence," the defense expert added. He also called for increased efforts to replace the Prime Minister before he causes irreversible damage to Israel from a diplomatic and security standpoint.
Click here to watch Alex Traiman interview Shteinitz at the Jerusalem Conference.