Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Thursday evening that he is certain Israel and the Palestinian Authority can reach an agreement by the end of this year. He just doesn't see any chance of it being implemented anytime soon, as it requires an end to PA terrorism.
"I don't see any chance of us being able to implement an agreement in the near term," the Prime Minister said,
Prime Minister Olmert angrily dismissed criticism that he and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni are compromising on Jerusalem.
addressing a pre-Passover holiday toast at Kadima party headquarters in Petach Tikva. "We will insist on all the terms of the Road Map, first and foremost among them a cessation of terrorism, as a precondition for implementation of any understanding. But the first step creating a horizon of hope for us and for the Palestinians can be taken, it must be taken, and we will make every effort in order to successfully do so this year."
Of the negotiations with the PA, Prime Minister Olmert told the assembled leaders of his party, "I promise you that we will reach understandings ensuring that the State of Israel will be able to be a secure state, that knows how to defend itself, that has room to live, whose existence will not be made conditional on any circumstance or prerequisite. I believe it is possible to reach understandings that will produce a incomparable solution."
Prime Minister Olmert angrily dismissed criticism that he and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni are compromising on Jerusalem and other key issues: "We don't need lessons from anyone - certainly not from our opponents in the opposition - about what the important issues are, that we have to insist upon and diligently defend. No one can teach me or any Kadima minister anything about the status, the importance and the symbolism of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel."
'We Have Security'
Turning to the ongoing rocket attacks from PA-controlled Gaza and IDF retaliatory raids, Prime Minister Olmert laid full responsibility at the feet of the Hamas terrorist organization. "We don't care which organization each terrorist belongs to," Olmert said, "the one managing what goes on in Gaza is Hamas. And that organization, and all of its members, are responsible for the ongoing terrorism and will have to suffer the unavoidable consequences of its actions in the south of the country."
The Prime Minister promised that "the response to Hamas will be such that it will be unable to act against the citizens of Israel as it currently is."
Olmert concluded his pre-Passover remarks to his party loyalists by saying, "Ahead of the 60th Independence Day, we can stand tall and tell ourselves: we have a wondrous country, we have achievements, we have power, we have security - and with them we will march forward [kadima in Hebrew - ed.]."