Prime Minister Olmert and map of Israel
Prime Minister Olmert and map of IsraelIsrael News Photo

Outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Sunday that Israel's “occupation” of Gaza was causing worldwide anti-Semitism. In his weekly cabinet meeting, Olmert said the restrictions on Gaza caused hatred, adding, “It should be remembered that we see the occupation as problematic.”

The Prime Minister, whose government supports the removal of Jews from most of Judea and Samaria, added, "As long as this reality continues, it makes it possible to attack Israel and gives anti-Jewish sources the opportunity to be heard. The complicated situation we're in encourages anti-Semitism.”

Olmert was reacting to reports of an increase in anti-Semitism worldwide since Israel's Operation Cast Lead in Gaza.

His reference to Israel as “occupiers” was seen as an attack on more than 250,000 Jews in Judea and Samaria by his implicit reference of their presence as an "occupation," a term used by dovish groups who favor Israel’s surrendering all of the land restored to the Jewish State in the Six-Day War in 1967.

“As long as we continue to be presented as occupiers, we'll continue to suffer from anti-Semitism. We'd do well not to forget the overall picture and the complex meaning of being an occupier,” Olmert said.

In what some perceived as an attempt to cement steps for creating a new Arab country, Olmert issued a warning to Israel's next government, saying the government must understand “what we will face, if we give the sense that domination over another people is integral to our worldview and that we don't plan to make any dramatic changes.”

He also made a blunt appeal to Tzipi Livni, who succeeded him as Kadima party leader, to join a national unity government led by Binyamin Netanyahu, chairman of the Likud. Olmert, with Livni sitting at his side, "blessed" Netanyahu for his efforts to create a wide coalition government with Kadima.

Olmert began his term as Prime Minister with plans for a unilateral Israeli withdrawal from most of Judea and Samaria. In 2007 he began negotiations with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas for the creation of a PA state in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.