Olmert: Netanyahu Strengthening Hamas

Former prime minister says Israel is weakening Abbas, who wants peace negotiations.

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Gil Ronen,

Ehud Olmert
Ehud Olmert
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Former prime minister Ehud Olmert blamed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of strengthening Hamas, following Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas' seemingly moderate statements on Israel's Channel 2 TV news.

"Unfortunately, since the change of government in Israel, negotiations with the Palestinians have been frozen and there has been an effort to prove to the Israeli public that there is no partner on the Palestinian side," Olmert said in a statement he released Sunday.

"Instead," Olmert charged, "the government of Israel took a series of steps that strengthen Hamas and weaken the Palestinian Authority headed by Mahmoud Abbas – an authority that believes in nonviolence and negotiations for peace."

"This policy toward the only possible partner for peace between us and the Palestinians is irresponsible and hurts the State of Israel's most vital interests," he added. "The interviews granted in recent days by the Palestinian president prove to the Israeli public that there is someone to talk to and there is something to talk about, with the aim of solving the bloody struggle between the nations that has gone on for too long."

Olmert is on trial for corruption charges but parts of the Israeli press are urgig him to return to politics in the hope of unseating Netanyahu in the coming elections.