Economics Minister Naftal Bennett slammed former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for comments he made Sunday at the Jerusalem Post Conference. Olmert, said Bennett, “chose to set a fire in New York, but this fire is unnecessary and damaging.”
In his comments, Olmert reiterated his long-standing policy of a major Israeli withdrawal from much of Judea and Samaria, saying that recent declarations by Binyamin Netanyahu showed that the Prime Minister concurred with his opinions. “Bibi is saying today what I was saying then.” Israel, Olmert said, could not continue “to rule over a million people without giving them democratic rights” without becoming internationally isolated. “In order to preserve Israel we must renew dialog with the Palestinians,” he said.
Olmert also said that the Iranian threat was overblown, and that Iran was nowhere near the “red line” that would require intervention to quash Iran's nuclear capabilities. The comments received a mixed reception, with some cheering Olmert on, applauding and shouting positive comments, with others booing him and calling for him to leave the stage.
Which is something Olmert would have been better advised to do, Bennett said. “Olmert has not been Prime Minister for several years now, and he is behind the times.” The situation with the Palestinian Authority has changed, and Olmert was apparently not aware of those changes, which obviated his previous proposals. “I call on everyone to listen to the voice of the people, the democratic process. We have a good Prime Minister and a good, responsible government that is dealing with all the issues of security well.”
Regarding Iran, Bennett said, Olmert, as a former prime minister, should know better than to make public statements of the type he did. “Any statement on Iran is a bad idea,” he said. “Prime Minister Netanyahu has organized and is leading an international coalition against our greatest enemy, and I wish him much luck in this. Any attempt to undermine this is bad for Israel,” he said.