Olmert: U.S. Should Lead Attack on Iran, Not Israel
Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said that if international efforts to halt Iran's nuclear program fail, any military action against Tehran should be led by the United States and not by Israel.
In an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour which was recorded on Sunday and aired on Monday, Olmert said, “The last resort is a military action. And I prefer that it would be an American action -- supported by the international community -- if all the other efforts would fail.”
Olmert added that the U.S. government should decide on the extent and the scope of any military action, saying, “Israel certainly could be part of the effort, but Israel should not lead it.”
The former Prime Minister said there is no immediate need for military action against Tehran. “I know one thing: that the Iranian leadership has not gone beyond a certain line for the time being of developing the nuclear program. And that shows that they are at least thoughtful, which means that they are not rushing, but they are calculating their steps.”
In the interview, Olmert also responded to the harsh remarks made over the weekend by former Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin.
Diskin attacked Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak at an open forum, saying they are “messianic” and “unfit to hold the reins of power. They give the public a false picture on the Iran question. They create the feeling that if Israel does not act, Iran will have a nuclear bomb, even though experts think that an attack on Iran will cause it to speed up the process of arming with nuclear weapons.”
Olmert described as “quite unusual” the comments from Diskin and added, “I prefer to distinguish between the personal aspects of what he said and the substantial aspects of what he said. We don't think that the priorities are set in the right way. First priority, as I said, is cooperation with America from a respectful and serious and careful attitude and not trying to teach the president of America or preach to the president of America or blame the president of America, but rather cooperate with him.”
Olmert also implied that, like Diskin, he did not trust the current leaders of Israel to make the right decisions.
“You have to have full trust in the judgment of those who have to take decisions,” said Olmert. “And you could understand from what I said that maybe something in my trust is lacking.”
Asked if he does not have full trust in the Netanyahu government, Olmert replied, “Apparently.” He admitted he was “worried” that a preemptive attack on Iran could be a “terrible, terrible mistake for the security and the well-being of Israel.”
Olmert, who faces a series of indictments and court hearings on charges of bribery and abusing public trust, was recently the keynote speaker at the annual J Street conference. The organization describes itself as being “pro-Israel” and “pro-peace,” but many Jews believe that the organization actually undermines the interests of the State of Israel and Jewish people.
Only several days ago, J Street’s regional director said that in the event that war broke out involving Israel, J Street would not necessarily support the Jewish state.
When Olmert served as Prime Minister, he was determined to reach a peace agreement with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. He went so far as to offer Abbas 94 percent of Judea and Samaria, a shared jurisdiction of Jerusalem, and allowing 5,000 PA Arabs who left their homes in 1948 back into Israel.
The details of Olmert’s offer were revealed several months ago in former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s memoir.